France sees itself as a “pioneer” in the fight against child labor

“These forms of work deny the freedom of any individual, they make work an alienation, weaken the very notion of equality”, solemnly declared Tuesday, November 9 the Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne: faced with the persistence and even the increase in child labor in the world – in 2020, it concerns 160 million children under 15 years old, that is to say 8 , 4 million more than four years ago, according to Unicef ​​-, the government wants to accelerate its action, in consultation with businesses and social partners.

Elisabeth Borne, Franck Riester, Minister for Foreign Trade, and Adrien Taquet, Secretary of State for Children and Families, meeting at the Ministry of Labor, presented their “National acceleration strategy to eliminate child labor, forced labor, human trafficking and contemporary slavery by 2030”, and signed a letter to Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

At its own level, France particularly wishes to involve multinationals based on its soil, by inviting them to monitor the working methods of their subcontractors at all levels of their value chain. This policy is an extension of the law establishing a duty of vigilance, in force since 2017, which obliges large companies to prevent serious attacks on fundamental freedoms.

Alliance 8.7 “Pioneer”

If the commitment is mainly focused on the least developed countries, the ministers also indicated the work still to be done on the national territory. “It may be surprising that France is embarking on such a process, because one might think that it does not concern us, said Adrien Taquet. Unfortunately this is not the case, there have been more than a thousand interventions by the labor inspectorate for cases of child labor over the past two years. ” The Minister for Trade Franck Riester believes that “School closures linked to the Covid crisis have worsened these phenomena. There have been losses of jobs and income in families. “

Government delegate to the ILO Anousheh Karvar, who coordinated this national strategy, points to the explosion of subletting by young people under 18 of accounts on delivery platforms such as Uber Eats or Deliveroo, the forced seasonal labor of young migrants in the agricultural sector, or sexual exploitation that concerns “More and more young girls of French nationality, especially in the estates”. “These phenomena exist, we cannot teach pioneer countries a lesson if we are not at zero”, says the government delegate to the ILO.

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