A seminar on "Fight against child labour and human trafficking" took place from October 20 to 24, 2021 in Calvi / France, organised by the CFTC (French Confederation of Christian Workers) with the support of EZA and the European Union.
39 representatives of workers' organisations participated in the seminar. The following countries were represented: Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania.
The United Nations General Assembly has designated 2021 as the year of the fight against child labour. The goal for 2025 is to eradicate child labour.
The figures: from 160 to 200 million children work, mainly because of poverty.
There is an undeniable responsibility of companies (chains of suppliers and subcontractors).
The European Parliament has just voted on a report on the monitoring of supplier and subcontractor chains and the European Commission has just launched the legislative procedure for a European directive which will provide companies with rules on their vigilance (and legal responsibility).
There is also a collective responsibility as a consumer. We must inform ourselves about the origin of what we buy (under what conditions is it produced?).
The consumer can have a great influence as a principal.
Whether this can increase some prices or decrease margins, it remains that we do not know the real price of suffering. We need to change our economic model.
A common response must be given to the challenge of combating child labour and human trafficking. “Leave no one behind”
The seminar was led by Joseph THOUVENEL, CFTC Confederal Secretary.
Opening of the seminar by Sigrid Schraml, General Secretary of EZA on the general issue of the fight against child labour and human trafficking in the world and in Europe.
The following topics were covered:
- “The fight against the exploitation of human beings in Romania and Portugal” By Mr. Silviu ISPAS, Director of IFES – Romania and Mrs Maria Reina Martin, Vice-president of FIDESTRA – Portugal.
- “Is the human being an economic object? By Mrs Chantal Delsol, philosopher.
- "The fight against the exploitation of human beings in Germany", by Mrs Susanne Hirschberger, Head of the Department - the Pastoral of Workers - Germany.
- "The initiatives of the French Government in the fight against the exploitation of human beings", by Mrs Anousheh Karvar, President of the global partnership against child labour.
- “Role and action of NGOs in the fight against the exploitation of human beings, by Mr. Marc Fromager, Director of the Ismérie mission.
- “What role can the European Parliament play in the fight against the exploitation of human beings? by Mr. Claude Rolin, former European deputy, former SG of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (CSC) - Belgium.
- “The fight against the exploitation of human beings in Latvia and Lithuania, by Ms Irina Semjonova, Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Latvia.
- “The fight against the exploitation of human beings in Poland, by Mr. Robert Szewczyk, Solidarnosc Regional Manager - Poland.
- “The fight against the exploitation of human beings in Bulgaria, by Mr. Veselin Mitov, International Secretary PODKREPA - Bulgaria.
- "One example among others: child labour in the Congo", by Mr. Jean-Baptiste Pandzou, CFTC Paris Advisor
- "How the presence of French armies and international forces in Africa contributes to the fight against the exploitation of human beings", by General Bruno Dary.
- The fight against the exploitation of human beings, the problem of multinationals", by Mr. Deny Neymon, Management consultant former Director of Human Resources of the SUEZ group.
- "The particular problem of agriculture", by Mr. Pierre Jardon, CFTC Agriculture General Delegate.
The finding of child labour, forced labour and human trafficking is alarming and further exacerbated by the pandemic crisis.
As far as child labour is concerned, more than 9 million child labourers are projected in the coming years and these figures are probably underestimated.
The same applies to forced labour which employs 25 million people in the world.
The main sectors most affected by child labour and forced labour are: agriculture, construction and domestic work. Human trafficking mainly concerns sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic slavery. The participating countries made a brief but exhaustive reminder of the national legislations to fight against these scourges. However, many of them still encounter difficulties in putting their legislation into practice.
The United Nations Program for Sustainable Development has set itself in its objective n°8, the promotion of sustained, shared, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. States, NGO’s, and Associations are mobilising to fight effectively against this modern slavery.
We must fight against poverty, which generates the exploitation of children and human trafficking. Poverty generates a weakened public which does not have the means to defend itself and which, in order to survive, is forced to accept the unacceptable.
The fight against poverty begins with the education of children, everywhere in the world education must once again become a priority and must be of high quality.
Action should be taken on the cost of labour and the taxation of companies, in order to raise minimum wages and prevent unfair competition between companies which respect the rules and those which resort to illegal work.
Victims must be informed of their rights, legal aid must be multiplied, especially for those who emigrate legally to a new country, and whose rules they do not know.
Finally, carry out a moral work of awareness on certain so-called future productions (in particular the production of batteries for electric cars for which African children sacrifice their youth by working in inhuman conditions).
Also act on consumers, for example on the social traceability of the products they buy without losing them in a myriad of labels.