A workshop organized on June 14 by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to celebrate the event affirmed that child labour has no place in well-functioning and well-regulated markets, in any part of supply chains, whether production or distribution, of a product.
“With 1.75 million engaged in child labour in Vietnam, these supply chains producing goods and services for millions every day could run the risk of having child labour,” said ILO Vietnam Director Chang-Hee Lee who warned that child labour “can be difficult to detect”.
Child labour occurs predominantly in the rural and informal economy, beyond the reach of labour inspectors and in areas where trade unions and employers' organizations are often weak or absent.
“It’s the same for child labour in supply chains as the work may be done in small workshops or households and often goes undetected by firms at the top of the chains,” said Dr Lee.
He added that in household production, children are often highly vulnerable because parents’ incomes are insufficient or because informal family enterprises cannot afford to hire adult workers to replace the unpaid work of their children.
According to MoLISA vice Minister Doan Mau Diep, Vietnam already has a law and policy system in place to realize children’s rights, particularly to prevent and minimize child labour, as well as has implemented many relevant programmes and intervention models.
However, he said: “Preventing, minimizing and ending child labour in Vietnam and other countries in the world face challenges which first include the awareness of the children themselves, their families, community and employers”.
As Vietnam is now deepening its global integration through free trade deals including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, the implementation of international commitments on labour, including child labour in supply chains will receive more attention.
Vice Minister Diep said that law enforcement and the proactive participation of all stakeholders in the society, families, community, State agencies, enterprises, trade unions and social organizations play an important role.
“The active, positive and responsible participation of all social partners will help laws and policies against child labour be better enforced, children’s rights be realized in practice, and children’s future and the future of the country’s workforce be ensured. We are the ones who decide the speed and level of reducing child labour in supply chains. We are the ones who decide our children’s future”, he said.