The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) is alarmed by the increase in child labor incidence in the Philippines.
According to the National Statistics Office (NSO) from 2.4 million in 2001, the number of children engaged in hazardous work increased to 3 million. Overall, the number of working children increased to 5 million from 4.2 million.
“We are left with no choice but to double our efforts and find better ways to implement programs to get children out of child labor, especially those in hazardous work,” said Julius Cainglet, Assistant Vice President of the FFW.
The NSO, who ran a survey on working children last year, reported its findings during the Philippine Celebration of World Day Against Child Labor in Pasig early today.
The same survey revealed that farms are the most common place of work (55.4%) of children. Some 12 per cent work in their own homes as a part of a family enterprise. Those working in the streets and working at sea similarly account for 9 per cent of where working children are found.
Innovative ways of combatting child labor
In 2007, the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) launched the Philippine Program Against Child Labor, a multi-sectoral master plan whose goal is to eliminate the worst forms of child labor by 2016.
The FFW, one of the largest and oldest labor federations in the country is a member of the NCLC. It also helps manage the Child Labor Knowledge Sharing System (CLKSS), the multi-level internet-based knowledge management system that houses all important information about child labor in the Philippines.
“I think there should be more participation by trade unions in the fight against child labor. Enlightened workers, most of whom belong to poor communities and comprise the employed poor would be in the best position to form the army that will wage war against child labor,” Cainglet added.
Among others, trade unions could be tapped for child labor monitoring in workplaces and the community. They could also help in raising awareness of fellow workers, parents and the community on child labor.
“Unionists are natural leaders in their communities. When they speak, people listen. If they talk about the evils of child labor, members of the community will surely think twice before exposing children to hazardous work. Many will realize what wrong they have been doing to the future of the country and of the world,” Cainglet said.
Trade unions are also being eyed to take a more active role in Regional, Provincial and Municipal or City Child Labor Committees.