Unicef and the International Labour Organisation are underestimating child labour by millions, says activist

AP Photo/ Norbert Schiller/ Child labour

AP Photo/ Norbert Schiller/ Child labour

Published May 15, 2022


Cape Town – Unicef and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) underestimate child labour by millions – 300 million to be precise, says human rights activist and journalist, Fernando Morales-de la Cruz, saying that nearly a quarter-billion children work in dangerous circumstances globally and no one is doing anything about it.

The 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour takes place in Durban, South Africa,from May 15 to 20, 2022.

In a statement on Friday, the ILO said that “No children should be in child labour, yet, according to the international labour body, 160 million children carry out work that harms their well-being and prevents them from fulfilling their dreams.

Speaking at the conference on Sunday, South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa said: “Without a conscious effort to achieve social justice, we will struggle to eliminate child labour. Vulnerable young people across the world are looking to all of us to emerge from Durban with actions that will radically change their lives.”

Fernando Morales-de la Cruz who is a journalist, human right activist, political consultant and adviser in international relations, says that labour authorities continues to downplay the number of children who are part of the global labour force.

Morales-de la Cruz says that he is working on the elimination of child labour in the supply chains of all corporations and all developed nations.

Fernando Morales-de la Cruz.

According to Morales-de la Cruz, neither the corporations nor the governments have real plans to eliminate child labour

“As an activist, I work in all G7 capitals, in Brussels, in Norway and in Switzerland to demand governments and corporations to respect the laws of their own countries and to stop exploiting poor and defenceless children to reduce costs and increase profits.”

He says that most people ignore that the EU is the largest financial beneficiary of misery and child labour in the rural communities that produce coffee, cocoa and many other products.

“Norway claims to respect human rights but the Norwegian Pension Fund, NBIM Norges Bank Investment Management, the largest investor in the world, with more than $1.4 trillion (R22.63trn) in assets assets under management, profits from the exploitation of tens of millions of children by investing in hundreds of corporations that exploit children to reduce costs and increase profits. This is absolutely illegal and also extremely cruel,” says Morales-de la Cruz.

Furthermore, he adds that Switzerland claims to be an exemplary democracy but it has more children working in its supply chains of coffee, tea and cocoa than children studying in all Swiss schools.

“Of course, millions of other children work in the Swiss supply chains of minerals, including gold and diamonds,” says Morales-de la Cruz.

Photo: @SVcaricature

In2021, the ILO stated that the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years – with millions more at risk due to the impacts of Covid-19, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization and UNICEF.