…poverty listed as main cause of child labourWith attempts to combat and eliminate cases of child labour, which has been on the rise for a number of years, a workshop for the draft of the National Child Labour Policy was on Tuesday hosted by the Department of Labour.A skit that was performed to educate the gathering on child labourThe workshop, which was held in commemoration of World Child Labour Day under the theme “Generation safe and healthy, end child labour”, saw the contributions of a number of stakeholders. The recommendations from the workshop are expected to result in a final document that can be implemented to prevent child labour.General Secretary of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) Dawchan Hagasar, commented on the alarming picture of cases of child labour in Guyana and the dangers which can be caused to a child as a result of working at a young age in dangerous conditions.“While we are aware that there is a commitment to eradicate child labour in Guyana, we also at the same time cannot be comforted by the statistics. We have seen from the most recent available national labour rapid assessment survey that children in Guyana are engaged in the worst forms of child labour including dangerous activities in agriculture,” Hagasar stated.Some children may be exposed to hazards when they lift and carry heavy loads, in domestic households or by working with pesticides in the agriculture field. Hagasar also related that the high unemployment rate in Guyana does not contribute to the lowering of these cases, since many children are sent out to work to support their families.“Children employed as domestic workers work long hours and are isolated in private homes where they are susceptible to physical abuse and sexual abuse. Children working in the streets are vulnerable to severe accident and crime. The facts are alarming and the situation is saddening. The massive bellowing of the unemployed in our country in the recent times cannot be helpful.”Meanwhile, Advisor of the Consultative of the Association of Guyanese Industry (CAGI) Samuel Goolsaran noted that while children are working for small wages, some magnitudes of child labour can cause irreversible damages to a child. He explained that while some cases might be visible, it is difficult to recognise other instances of child labour in Guyana.Additionally, Chief Labour Officer Charles Ogle who addressed the gathering of stakeholders on behalf of the Minister within the Social Protection Ministry Keith Scott revealed that the main cause of child labour in Guyana is poverty, which accounts to some 82 per cent while 13 per cent was as a result of force by parents. There is an interconnection between poverty in the household which requires children to enter into a work environment to obtain money. In these circumstances, their education is abandoned.“The root cause of child labour is extreme poverty. There’s seems to be a strong coloration between poverty and child labour. Hence, every act directed at the illumination of poverty can be considered as an attack on child labour.”General Secretary of the Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis, also recognised poverty as the main factor for the exploitation of a child in Guyana. According to him, the education of people after the policy is completed will lead to awareness. This will foster action and result in change. However, the principal target still remains at poverty.Further, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative Palo Marchi noted that the policy is important since there is not much statistics on child labour in Guyana which can cause major prevention.“The development of the policy will push an agenda. Let’s have a policy which is going to have a strategy, piece of legislation and implementable. So we will push an agenda to together prevent child labour by ensuring more focus investment towards education and social protection measures to combat child labour and especially prevent it.”At the end of the workshop’s discussion, concerns surrounding the drafts were likely to be finalised to ensure that a comprehensive policy is completed and adopted.