The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has advocated for policies that narrow the gap of economic inequality to tackle the growing prevalence of child labor worldwide.
On Wednesday, Joe Ajaero, the President of NLC, addressed journalists during the ongoing 111th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland, expressing the need for action in response to the speech delivered by Gilbert Houngbo, the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), on the occasion of Child Labour Day observed on June 12.
The NLC president acknowledged that child labor is a global issue beyond Nigeria’s borders. However, he admitted that the magnitude and nature of the problem differ from country to country, as well as within states and over time.
He emphasized that Nigeria is particularly affected by this issue due to its high poverty rate, which forces children to be breadwinners for their families.
“I also want to emphasize that in a nation where approximately 133 million people are enduring multidimensional poverty, it becomes challenging to assess their efforts in eradicating child labor,” he remarked.
Mr. Ajaero highlighted factors contributing to child labor in Nigeria, such as parental unemployment and some state government’s failure to implement a minimum wage.
“Children are compelled to work on the streets, engage in hawking, and are employed in industries like construction, where child labor is prevalent. In such circumstances, even if legislation is enacted to prohibit child labor, it will have little impact in a country plagued by militancy and kidnappings if no action is taken to reduce income inequality or alleviate poverty,” Mr. Ajaero added.
Regarding the apprenticeship issue, which was also discussed at the ILO conference, Mr. Ajaero stated that each country must develop laws that ensure fair compensation and establish a conversion timeframe for apprentices.
Drawing upon the example of the South-East region, the NLC president highlighted that apprenticeship had been an integral part of life in that area for generations, constituting an unwritten agreement that has proven beneficial for its inhabitants.