The Nigeria Employers Association (NECA), has launched a Code of Conduct to guide practices of companies in the organised private sector towards the elimination of child labour.
The President of NECA, Mr Taiwo Adeniyi, said this during the inauguration of the Code of Conduct for Employers of Child Labour, on Tuesday in Abuja.
The theme is “Promoting Employers Cooperate Social Responsibility (CRS) Initiatives, Human Rights Due Diligence towards Elimination of Child Labour’’.
The event was organised by NECA with support from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), on Accelerating Action for the Elimination (ACCEL) of Child Labour supply chain in Africa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that ILO estimates 160 million children globally are Child Labourers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that it may increase with another nine million by the end of 2022.
Adeniyi said the development of the Code was to guide the practices of companies in the organised private sector towards the elimination of child labour in the country.
According to him, it is also a practical document that gives insight into steps to be taken by companies to address child labour impacts on companies and their global supply chains.
Adeniyi said NECA had deployed some interventions, in collaboration with the ILO, to stem the practice of child labour and global supply chains in Nigeria.
“This is to accelerate progress on the elimination of child labour in the cocoa, artisanal and small scale gold mining, especially in the supply chains in Nigeria, through the ACCEL Africa project.
“ACCEL Africa, a South African project is a four-year project being funded by the Dutch Government, and which is being implemented in Nigeria, from May 2019 to Oct. 2022.
“The project is the fallout of the decision of the world leaders in Sept. 2015, to adopt the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.’’
Adeniyi said the project was among the substantive targets, set on the goal 8, which seeks to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking.
“It is also to secure the prohibition and admission of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and the use of child soldiers by 2025.’’
The NECA president said that Nigeria, as a member of the UN, also recognised the magnitude of child labour incidences that required urgent effective response.
“Many children work for long hours in dangerous and unhealthy environments, carrying so much responsibility for their age.
“They work with little food, small pay, no education and no medical care; that establishes a cycle of children rights violation.
“The number of working children in Nigeria has increased over the years and has been worsened by the COVID 19 pandemic.
“This is in spite of Nigeria’s ratification of the ILO’s Child Labor Convention 188 on the minimum age of admission to employment, and Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour,’’he said.
He also noted that over the years, NECA had continued to play a critical role in curbing the worst forms of child labour in the engagements of fruitful tripartite discussions on the issue.
According to Adeniyi, NECA as the authentic voice of business, is advocating and creating awareness among actors in the supply chain about adverse hiring practices of their suppliers.
“And the benefits are responsible businesses without child labour.”
He said NECA was committed to providing the platform to fight the scourge by amplifying its elimination.
The NECA president, who expressed optimism that the interventions would contribute to the achievement of SDG 8.7 in Africa, stressed that the association would continue to be at forefront of promoting good practices.
Also, Ms Kachie Daju, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, called all employers to take immediate action to facilitate the integration of child labour concerns into company policies.
According to Daju, the endorsement of guiding principles on business and human rights by the UN Human Rights Council 2011, provides companies with a practical framework for meeting this responsibility.
“Based on the guiding principles, enterprises are to assess their policies and processes against the key elements of corporate responsibility in relation to the prohibition of child labour.
“The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Labour and Employment, hereby calls on all employers of labour to take immediate action,’’ Daju said.
The ILO Country Director to Nigeria, Vanessa Phala, called on employers of labour to increase CSR as a response to issues surrounding working children in Nigeria.
According to Phala, increased CSR that focuses on eliminating child labour, will also reduce the vulnerabilities of children to the scourge.
“As employers of labour, we must consistently without fear, without favour, monitor our production and supply chains, and show decent practices.
“That is by contributing to the act, to the complete exclusion of children from anywhere, that would harm their physical, mental and moral development, or keep them away from school.
“We can achieve this by increasing funding for existing interventions and showing continuity in executing policies related to child labour, by supporting school to work in transition and encouraging child participation,’’ Phala said.
The ILO country director also urged employers to create opportunities for children to go to school, to stay at school, and become productive members of society by contributing meaningfully to the communities they hailed from.
“I encourage us to make a commitment to secure the future today by taking active steps in eliminating child labour from our society. This is how we can secure the future,’’ she said.
Also, Possenti Silvia, ILO-ACCEL Africa Technical Officer (Supply Chain and Enterprises), called on employers to implement CSR and human rights due diligence in the elimination of child labour supply chain.
According to Sylvia, the two components are key to child development, and require effective implementation.
“They are very complementary and need to be implemented together. Companies through these instruments can really make a difference in addressing the root causes of child labour in the country.’’ she said. (NAN)