Labour Union urges Nigeria to amend Child Labour

Helen Shok Jok. Geneva

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC has urged the Nigerian Government to amend the Child Labour Law to suit the International Labour Organisation Convention ILO 138 on Child Labour.

Head of Department, International Relations of the NLC, Comrade Uchenna Ekwe told Voice of Nigeria in Geneva that the present Law was outdated.

“If you notice, even the ILO complementary bag this year is on child labour,  so this conference has a lot of focus on child labour.

“Incidentally, Nigeria appeared on what is called “double footnotes,” that is after the Standard Committee considered the report of the Committee of Experts who visited Nigeria,’’ Comrade Ekwe said.

According to him, “the main crocks of the matter is, up grading the Nigerian  law to suit the provisions  of Convention 138, on Child Labour, incidentally, that law has  been delayed for over six years in the parliament, so it came up when presentations were made.’’

“The challenge is that, Nigeria needs to get that law amended in line with the convention which we have already domesticated,” he stated.

He noted that the aim was to have the right of the child all over the world protected.

Free and compulsory education
Comrade Ekwe stressed that NLC’s position on the issue as it concerns Nigeria was for the Government to enforce free and compulsory primary and secondary education for every child in the country.

“Even if you do not need every child to go to the university, any person that has qualitative primary and secondary education can hold their own anywhere in the world and in any field…Those who have the capacity to go into further intellectual base university, they can do that but every other person must move away from the minimum poverty line.

“If people think it is expensive, they use to say to educate somebody is to try ignorance,’’ he explained.

Comrade Ekwe said that the amendment of the Child Labour Law would include age bracket so that nobody works before the age of 15.
“If a child under 15 years of age must work, it should be specified and that means the child must have finished secondary school at that age,’’ he stated.
He noted that ILO has taken a position as it concerns Nigeria not amending the Child Labour Law to suit the International Labour Organisation Convention ILO 138 on Child Labour.

“I know that ILO has urged the government and the Nigerians to quickly amend the Child Law Act to meet the provision of Convention 138…
“Two, they have offered to send technical assistant to help train the trainer and the issue of training and supervisory inspectorate divisions to check, including domestic violence to know the level under age people are treated.
“That will include the punishment for engaging people under certain age, in certain work,”
Commrade Ekwe stated.

He added that it was important for the Nigerian government to amend the Child Labour law as there could be social sanctions by the ILO, a United Nation body.