Myanmar signs minimum working age convention

Myanmar has signed the Minimum Age Convention 138 under the International Labour Organization (ILO) requiring it to set a minimum labour age as well as set up national policies in abolishing child labour.

The convention was ratified on June 8, two days prior to World Day Against Child Labour on June 12.

The World Day Against Child Labour is celebrated worldwide annually to call attention to the global child labour challenges and to drive collective action to end all forms of child labour by 2025.

The United Nations has declared 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

“Children simply should not work. Switzerland welcomes Myanmar’s ratification of the Minimum Age Convention. We consider this an important step forward,” said Tim Enderlin, Ambassador of Switzerland to Myanmar.

The Minimum Age Convention 138 requires countries to set a minimum age in accordance with the completion of compulsory education and under which no one shall be admitted to work in any occupation except light work and artistic performances. Moreover, the convention also prohibits hazardous activities for anyone under 18 years old.

According to the new Child Law and existing Labour Law, the minimum working age in Myanmar is 14 years old.

Myanmar is the 178th country to ratify the convention and has an estimated 9.3% of the child population aged 5 to 17 in child labour, including more than 600,000 working in hazardous work environments.

With the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 150 million children trapped in child labour around the world are at risk of entering hidden and more dangerous forms of work or working longer hours, a report by the ILO and UNICEF revealed.

As of May, more than 60,000 people have already lost their jobs in Myanmar and as the virus outbreak continues, it is predicted that there could be deeper cuts in workers’ salaries or more employment terminations.

COVID-19 could drive children out of school, cause them to become orphans or put them into financial difficulties. These factors could push millions of children, including those at a very young age, to work in hazardous work conditions.

“As we fight the impacts of COVID-19 together, we must provide additional protection for children so they are not put in a situation where they are forced into the most dangerous forms of labour, that push them to miss school and impair their health and well-being,” Alessandra Dentice, deputy representative of UNICEF Myanmar, said.

“We need integrated approaches that strengthen child protection systems and simultaneously address poverty and inequity, improve access to and quality of education and inform and mobilise the public to respect children’s rights.”

To commemorate World Day Against Child Labour campaign in Myanmar, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, in collaboration with the ILO, and in partnership with the Embassy of Switzerland, are going to be organising several events around the country until September 30.

Photo exhibitions in the Central Railway Station, Dala Ferries and Junction City will open on June 15, while online campaigns and awareness raising activities across various states and regions will take place over the coming months.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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