What can the fight against HIV teach us about Ebola?

Margherita Licata and Kofi Amekudzi

Margherita Licata and Kofi Amekudzi, Technical Specialists ILOAIDS

The more we learn about the challenges of responding to the Ebola Virus Disease  in West Africa, the easier it becomes to discern parallels to the HIV epidemic —  another health crisis , which we’ve been battling for over 30 years now. The HIV response has some valuable lessons for the way we confront the disease in general, particularly in the workplace. Here’s an example.

About four years ago, we were working in southern Malawi with the ILO Programme for HIV/AIDS on a project targeting workers at the Lujeri Tea Estate. Though the rate of new infections has slowed, Malawi still has some of the highest HIV infection rates in the world, affecting one in every four people who lives there.

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“What I learned from a day at the docks with Thailand’s labour inspectors”

Kuanruthai Siripatthanakol, National Project Coordinator (Thailand), GMS TRIANGLE Project

In an icy cold room in the fishing port of Samut Sakhon, a labour inspector reads over the payroll ledger of a small shrimp peeling shed. Most of the workers are from Myanmar and some of them appear to be very young. They are hesitant to discuss their situation with the inspectors, especially as their employer looks on. The ledger reveals discrepancies in the number of hours worked and payment of the daily minimum wage of 300THB (about US$ 9.15).

I’m here as part of a five-day training course for labour inspectors from the coastal provinces of Thailand.

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Children belong in school, not in supply chains

Benjamin Smith, Senior Officer for Corporate Social Responsibility

Benjamin Smith, Senior Officer for Corporate Social Responsibility
International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour

The importance of employers in the worldwide movement against child labour has never been clearer. The corporate responsibility to respect human rights, including a child’s right to be free from child labour, is now widely recognized. Today, companies that don’t have a policy against child labour are outside the mainstream.

The challenge is to ensure that policy commitments achieve results — and this requires action on the ground, in workplaces and communities. I was in Blantyre, Malawi recently to train a company’s agronomists on combating child labour in agriculture. Every day, these agronomists — who are mostly young men and women — travel huge distances over rough terrain on Honda 125 motorcycles, visiting farms to advise farmers on when to plant, what fertilizers work best and when to harvest.

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