Usman Bilal, a former child labourer, is an MBA student and child-labour activist.
When I was young, I lived in my village in Pakistan with my father, mother, three brothers and four sisters. My father was a carpenter and he worked hard to build a bright future for his family, but his income was too low to make this possible.
So, in 2001, when I was just ten, my parents sent me far away, to my maternal uncle’s workshop in the village of Bhagwal Awan, in the district of Sialkot, to make surgical instruments. I didn’t want to go, I wanted to stay in school and study, but I had no choice.
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.
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.