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SUGGESTIONS TO IMPROVE LAW RELATING TO CHILD LABOUR

By : Suwarn Rajan on 02 October 2009 Report Abuse Print Print this
 



SUGGESTIONS TO IMPROVE LAW RELATING TO CHILD LABOUR

The indepth study of the foregoing chapters rightly reflects that children are the base-pillars of the civilized society. They are the important assets of any nation and their welfare is an index of the Nation’s prosperity. It is therefore, our duty to protect these tender flowers from the vagaries of nature, such as an excessive exposure to heat, cold and rain as from human exploitation. Justice Suba Rao has rightly opined that “social justice must begin with children. Unless tender plant is properly nourished, it has little chance to grow into a strong and useful tree. So first priority in the scale of social justice shall be given to the welfare of children”. There are no two opinions that children are the future of the nation and thus they should be given adequate opportunity and facilities for developing themselves into a good citizen. However, this growth depends upon the support and attention he receives from the society. As distinguished from adults, children are peculiarity susceptible to certain harms. They cannot raise their voice against those who injure them or deprive of their rights. In these circumstances it is a dire necessity to give them proper attention so that their capacity to grow but does not dwarf. They are the most crucial human resources because of the pace of tomorrow’s development depends upon the quality of children we bring up today.

It is unfortunate to highlight there that India has the largest child labour force in the world. The problem of employment of children is not a problem in or by itself but it is a part of the larger problem of child welfare. Child labour is one of the serious mode of human exploitation of child. Though each and every society is advancing in a unmeasurable pace in almost every field, yet it is very sad experiences to witness that the child labour has now become a universal problem. They have been exploited more or less in all periods of time, though varied in its nature and dimension, depending on the existing socio-economic structures of society. In other words they have been exploited for business, domestic, agriculture and industrial work to supplement the resources of the poverty- ridden families.

The study of chapter-1 reflects that the child formed part of the labour necessary for the reproduction of the system and value of labour taken as a part of the child socialization for reproduction of the labourer power. The chapter stands a testimony to the fact that child labour in the different periods had a chequered history and presents a vivid account of child’s said plight. The study of child labour in historical perspective discloses to us that the child labour was prevalent even in ancient period also. Slaves of tender age were owned for doing low and ignoble work. Moreover children of slaves were born as a slave, lived as slave and died also as slave unless the master was pleased to monumit him. According to Kautilya and Sir Henry Maine reveals that child slave could be purchased and sold like commodity. The eldest male parent the eldest ascendant was absolute supreme in his household. He had completely swayed over all the children. Law to them was parent’s words. The parents used to sell the services of their children to earn their livelihood. There was employment of children in agriculture and domestic services. It is clear from this chapter that the child labour in ancient period was very common and could be witnessed in different occupations where they were engaged by the rich landlords to carry out activities directly or indirectly related to agriculture.

India, through its medieval period was no exception to this social evil and remained in existence in large scale. Increasing pressure on land compelled the poor parents to use their children to earn their livelihood for them. The condition of child labour was no better than slave. Child labour was found in the form of child slavery and the rulers did not endeavour to weed out this practice and hence the result was that the child was exploited for the selfish end.

During the time of the British period some change had been made in the problem off child labour. The new economic forces unleashed by capitalism destroyed the family-based economy, a large number of labourers were displaced due to mechanism of agriculture- the farmers were alienated from their home –based work place. They became wage earning labourers. It is revealed that extreme poverty made possible a situation in which child had to be introduced in the labour market. This uneven development of industralisation gave a new turn to the history of mankind and brought a change in the socio-economic order. Family-based economy was destroyed and large number of people became wage-earning labourers and, as a result the children were forced to earn their wages for themselves as well as for their families. Their work-place was separated from family environment and work now exposed the child to unhealthy environment. The hours of working started from morning to night but the earning remained quite meagre. As a result, the child’s ability to grow and develop into a mentally and physically sound adult was severely restricted. The employers’ monopoly to bargain free with child labour produced an environment of exploitation.

There are, however, a few instances where British Government enacted a few protective legislation for child labour in India. The study shows that Indian Factories Act, 1881, Mines Act, 1901, Factories Act, 1911, Factories (Amendment) Act, 1922, Indian Factories Act, 1931, Children(Pledging of labour) Act, 1933, Indian Mines (Amendment) Act, 1935 , Employment of Children Act, 1938 etc., were enacted with a view to forbid the employment of children in factories carrying out hazardous work . These legislations endeavoured to improve the working conditions of child labour in the factories. However, the study shows that these legislations could not make any improvement in the working conditions of the child workers. The result of this was that child labour continued as a means of cheap labour. The Labour investigating committee, in its report in 1946 has pointed out that the main cause of this was the inadequacy of inspecting staff to enforce the provisions of those welfare legislations.

The child labour after independence was made a focal point of government policy. It reflect in chapter 2 that after independence the constituent members thought to framing their own constitution because they were the pioneers of the freedom movement were fully aware of the problems of the downtrodden sections of the Indian community. They had also a first hand knowledge of the various forms of exploitative labour had existed in the country. Therefore while preparing a drafts and notes on the fundamental rights of the citizens, they had provide for enactment of special provisions for the abolition of all forms of exploitative labour. After so many discussion was held on these drafts prepared by the members of the constituent assembly related to the subject i.e. bonded labour and child labour finally these drafts had taken in the form of present article of the constitution in the forms of fundamental rights in where rights was given to the citizens for protecting them from exploitation. Not only this article had served this purpose but other article had also incorporated in the constitution related to child welfare. The very preamble of constitution unequivocally states that social, economic, and political justice, liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, equality of status and opportunities and fraternity, assuring the dignity of individual and unity and integrity of nation will be secured to all citizens. Further, it recognizes the need for the granting special protection to children. It is intended to by our wise founding fathers of the constitution that children should have their distributive justice in future in our free India. Keeping in view the intention of the makers of our constitution, numerous provisions ensuring justice to children have been envisaged in a Part-III and part-IV of our constitution. Part-III of the constitution contained a long list of fundamental rights which are equally available to children also. The children have also rights to enjoy all the fundamental rights which are granted to the citizens of India under Articles 14-18, 19, 21 and so on. There are also some fundamental rights expressly provided for children. Article 15(3) enables the state to make special provisions in its law to give favourable treatment to children. Preferential treatment is expected on the consideration of inherent weakness of children. Article 23 of the constitution prohibits the traffic in human beings, begar and other similar forms of forced labour and exploitation. Similarly, Article 24 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in factories, mines or hazardous employment. It is clear from  Article 39(e) and (f) that state has been put under obligation to evolve a policy eliminating the abuse of tender age and to free children from the circumstances forcing them to enter into avocations unsuited to their age of strength. The state has also been put under the constitutional obligation to generate social and economic condition and infrastructure for the healthy development of children and to provide facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom of dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment. Article 45 says that a duty has also been cast on the state to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years. This was done in the light of the case observed by the Supreme Court in Unnikrishan and Mohini Jain case in where the court had make a point that education provide to the children is a fundamental right. This new Article i.e. 45 has been amended from the earlier provision of this Article in the (Eighty Six )Amendment Act, 2002 section 2.A primary duty is also imposed upon the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of the children and improve their health. Though these directives are not enforceable by court yet these have been declared fundamental in the governance of the country, it is obligation of the state to apply these principles in making child welfare legislations.

Keeping in view the constitutional philosophy of child labour many legislations have been enacted by the governments both centre and state, lying special emphasis on the responsibility of nation or physical, mental, moral and special development of children which reflect in chapter -3. Some of the enactments are like The Factories Act, 1948, The Minimum Wage Act, 1948, The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1966, The Plantations Labour Act, 1951, Beedi and Cigar Workers (Condition of Employment) Act, 1966 and Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 have been enacted because of the progressive outlook of the governments for improving the working conditions of the child workers. The main objective behind these legislations is to eradicate the evils of child labour and improve their working conditions so as to allow them to develop into good citizen. The basic aim of all these enactments is to prohibit the employment of children in certain employments and regulate the conduct of the employers of child workers in such a way that these poor creatures are not exploited any more. These legislations strictly deal with the number of working hours of child workers, food facilities, rest hours, medical facilities, entertainment hours, schedule of weekly, monthly and yearly holidays of the child workers minimum wages and mode of payment etc. The employers of the child workers have been directed to carry out these rules in strict sense. Penalty can even be imposed on these employers in case of violations of the provisions of these legislations. Besides these welfare legislations, the Report of the National Commission on Labour, 1969 and recommendations of the Committee on Child labour, 1979 also look out the problem of child labour and give some suggestion that there should be some proper law for protecting the rights of the working children. Not only on the legislations for the welfare of children but also India had also ratified the Convention which put there point on three issues (a) minimum age of employment, (b) medical examination of the working children,(c)  prohibition of night work done by these poor creatures and also India has evolved a National Policy on child labour welfare. But the situation remain same the problem of child labour does not improve.

It is irony that, despite the number of acts had been framed for protecting the rights of the children but still child labour problem had put an ugly face in India. There appears no improvement in thee working conditions of child labour and moreover, the employers without any fear flout the provisions of these legislations and therefore very seldom occasions where there could have been punished fore violation of these provisions. Despite judicial verdicts there seems hardly any improvement in the working condition of child labour in India. There is no doubt that judicial response to child labour welfare as revealed from the chapter-4 of this study is quite praise worthy in where first three cases of this chapter had drawn the attention of problem of bonded child labour in this country. The liberalization of the rule of locus standi had helped the poor and deprived bonded child labourers who parents are in the control of the cruel masters. For violating their human rights. In fact, this liberalizing tend has given rise to a new form of litigation popularly known as ‘public interest litigation’. And other numerous cases of this chapter the apex court has given direction to the government to carry out measures for the welfare of the child worker but these directions seem to have made a little alert on the working conditions of children. It appears that the courts in India have always remained quite sensitive and vigilant to the problems of child workers and many instructions have been issued by the judiciary to both centre and state governments, to improve their working conditions of children but study shows that these instructions have hardly influenced the working conditions of children.

The chapter-5 reflects that the problem of child labour has not only affected the national but international scenario also. The first organization who came in support for looking out the problems of child labour was the International Labour Organization who had been established in the year 1919 after the First World War-I which had been established by the League of Nations through the treaty of Versailles. The main aim of establishing this organization at the beginning was the special attention to the various problems concerning child labour. It has been endeavouring for adoption and promulgation of measures by its member for providing the young persons and children whether already in employment or seeking employment, with protection against exploitation, coercion, maltreatment and bondage. After this aim of establishing this organization has played an important role. Till Now 18 conventions and 16 recommendations has adopted by this organization for the concerning of child labour. But other international agencies also look out the problems of child labour like UDHR, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and WHO etc making effort to eradicate the evils of child labour and protecting their rights. Beside the international agencies, the international instruments also played an important role on curbing the problem of child labour like ICCPR, ICESCR, Slavery Convention, and Convention of the rights of the Child, 1989. This convention has played a great role for the protecting the rights of the child. Prior to this convention a Declaration of the Rights of the Child had been made in 1959 in where some principle had drawn  related to child rights but this principle had not any sanctity because it was just declaration which did not bind any member to follow it. But there was Conference held in the year 1979,  which is considered to be the International year of the Child and after 10 years Convention has  been made and it is binding to  all members who have ratify this convention and members should formulate the article of the convention in their principal laws for protecting the rights of the children. On the problems of child labour this convention has made article 32 which says that state parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

But it is irony that despite the national and international scenario has taken initiatives to mitigate the problem of child labour but the problem is still serious in the developing countries including India, where maximum number of children is working in organized and unorganized sector.

In view of the above statement I have tried to bring out some suggestion for mitigate the problem of child labour if it is not properly eradicate the evils of child labour.  

(1) Criticism of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 and its Reforms:- The Government of India has enacted the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act,1986 which prohibits the employment of children in hazardous work and also regulate the conditions of work in certain other employment where the employment is not prohibited . The Act has many provisions to be welcomed but at the same time it has some lacunas and its own limitations. The flaws in the Act are as follows:

(i) Child Labour (prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 covers only 10 percent of the total working children. Moreover, the agricultural sector, which contributes more than 75 percent of the child employment is not covered by the Act. This Act is not easy to enforce in the unorganized sector because the units are numerous and unregistered. The employer- employee relationship is continuously changing, and frequently the unit is tiny a family-based one. Most of these units spring up and disappear overnight and are very difficult to keep track of in the absence of any requirement of registration.

(ii) Section 3 of the Child labour (prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 keeps the occupation, work, or process that is carried on by the occupier with the aid of his family out of the purview of the Act. The intention of the Act is to exempt a family enterprise in which all or several of the members of the family are involved. It was not intended to exempt farmed out, piece-rate work, where the home merely replaces the factory premises. This proviso is abused by employing children in respect of families and work experience acquired by children. This provision helps employers to pose ‘a family members’ of the children working in their premises and thus continue to exploit the children. When any action is taken against any employer for employing a child, the excuses given are that ‘the child is a relative and is helping in housework’ or the ‘child I being trained for a family trade’ and so on.

(iii) Although the Act prohibits the employment of children in certain hazardous industries and processes, it does not define what constitutes hazardous work. It only provides a list of hazardous occupations/ processes (list in annexure 2). As a result, it leaves a loophole for employment of children in hitherto unidentified hazardous occupations and processes, and the use of hazardous materials.

(iv)  The law does not recognize the child as an individual being who should be the focus of the Act. Instead, the focus is on the establishment, employer, administration and procedures on cleansing the establishments of child labour with no provision for the child’s rehabilitation. It does not say what should happen to the child labourer once the employer is prosecuted.

(v) The implementation of the Act depends entirely on the State’s bureaucratic machinery. It assumes that the bureaucracy, poorly staffed and ill-equipped as it is today, will be able to ensure that children do not work in hazardous processes and occupations, and conditions of work in non-hazardous settings will be upgraded. The bureaucracy is also expected to determine whether a child is working in a non-hazardous process or a hazardous occupation. Again, under the law, the employer is supposed to notify the labour Department whether any children are working in his establishment. This means that one expects those who may be guilty or proven to be guilty, to notify their improprieties or illegal acts to the authorities. Moreover, the onus of proving the age of the child lies with the prosecutor, and not the offender.

Reforms

(i) The present definition of establishment has considerable scope for extension and enlargement.[1]

(ii) In section 3 of the Act amendment should be made that ‘it shall be presumed that occupier is also the employer for the purpose of the Act and the onus to prove that the child is a member of his or her family would rest on the occupier’.

(iii) Child Labour (prohibition and Regulation) Act does not specify the minimum age of employment of children in the occupation and processes other than the prohibited ones . Most laws and legal provisions relating to child labour specify the minimum age entry for employment to be fourteen years. Nevertheless, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child gives in Article 1 the standard concerning the definition of a child means every human being below the age of eighteen, unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier. This standard age of the child should be adhered to in all legislations including the Child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.

(iv) Determining the age of the child is a big problem. In a country like India, many children do not have birth certificates. This procedure needs to be simplified. Besides, it is recommended that till such time as age is determined the benefit of doubt should be in favour of the child.

(v) There is no specific provision in the 1986 Act for applying the provisions of other laws like the Industrial dispute Act, the Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, the Minimum Wages Act, etc. A child who has a dispute relating to his wage, salaries and other employment benefits in the permissible areas of work has to approach the adult dispute resolution mechanism. The child labourers in the prohibited areas of work cannot even approach the adult dispute settlement machinery as their provision in the Act for a dispute resolution mechanism for the protection of wages or other employments benefits. Special courts could be set up for a speedier and more effective trial of violations under this Act. 

(vi) It is suggested that the advisory function of the Technical Advisory Committee under Section 5(1) of the Act should be expanded and it should be able to receive petitions from individuals etc. for addition of occupations and processes to the Schedule. There is not doubt that if power vested in the Technical Advisory Committee are made more broad- based in order to enable it to receive petitions from specific individuals which may be supported by convincing reasoning for being included in the list off scheduled occupations and processes so as to extend the scope of the Act of such employments, by this process it would be possible to expand the horizons of the Act more expeditiously thereby extending legal protection to more and more categories of the child labour .

(vii) It is suggested that the penalty for violation as per section 14(3) of the Act i.e., one month or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both should be enhanced to three month or with fine may extend to fifty thousand rupees or with both so that the penalty might have some deterrent effect on the defaulting employer.

(viii) The rules relating to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) in various states need to be immediately amended for better implementation of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.

(ix) As per section 16 of the Act no time period has been prescribed with in which metropolitan magistrate or magistrate of Ist class required to complete the proceedings. On a complaint of the commission of an offence under this Act. It is suggested that a time limit from three to six month should be fixed for the disposal of the case so that the aggrieved party get relief in time.

(2) Spread of Education.       

(i) Top priority should be given to Universalisation elementary education for children between six to fourteen years with in a time from not exceeding more than five years. The other important programme be non-formal education to help children who are unable or unwilling to attend full time school. These facilities should be provided by Non-Governmental Organization.

(ii) Education Policy needs a constructive change. Primary education should be made compulsory and free for all children below the age of fourteen years without any discrimination on the basis of sex, colour, caste, birth or other status.

(iii) Along with general education, vocational training should be imparted to the children to make them economically independent in their adult.

(iv) For the time being, keeping in view the necessity of children work in tea stall, sweet-shops and dhabas, school time should be suitably adjusted to meet the requirements of these establishments so that child workers may be able to learn while they earn.

(v) All the programme for education meant for child labour should go side by side with nutrition health care, and social welfare as a package with in ICDS (Integrated Child Development Service).

(vi)Laws on child labour and education should be consistent in purpose and implemented in a mutually supportive way.

(vii) Children removed from the work should be provided non-formal education along with vocational training what ever they like. They should also begin some stipend types. This will make them able to shift from remunerative more satisfying and non-hazardous alternative jobs.

(viii) Educating the child is not enough without also educating the parents. Hence, there should be a greater emphasis on adult education, which will teach about nutritional needs of the child and also make the parents aware of the hazards off sending their children to work.            

(3) Government Policy

(i) The state government has to take concrete steps to strictly prohibit the employments of the children in occupation, which have been under the child labour Act.

(ii) The state government must achieve the law enforcement machinery to see that all he legislative measures aiming at the welfare of the child labour are fully implemented in occupations, where employment of children is permitted.

(iii) Besides this, the government should also provide financial assistance in the forms of grants-aid to the voluntary bodies for imparting non-formal education, health care, nutrition and vocational training to the child labour.

(iv) It is suggested that the government should ratify the Convention No 182 and Recommendation No 190 which deal with the “prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Form of child labour”. The Convention was adopted in 1999 but the government has not yet ratified it.

(v) It is suggested that the government take up different programmes like food for education, providing financial assistance, self employment of rescued child labour, after completion of their study and establishment of production-cum training centres for child labour with stipend, etc to reduce the incidence of child labour.

(vi) Efforts should also be taken by the voluntary organization to involve the local public and parent/guardians of child labour. So that they become aware of the efforts made by the government for the upliftment of child labour.       

(vii) The government must constitute children’s Board to study, identify, establish and catalogue the nature and extent of child employment. It should also deal with the problems, needs and working conditions of child labour and to prevent their exploitation in various forms. The duty of the Board must be to check the timing of work, health and cleanliness of child workers and behavior of employer by sending its representatives from time to time. The Board must see that the wages of child workers are paid to them regularly without any delay on the part of their employers. The Board must be empowered to conduct inquiry about the working conditions of children and it must be the duty of the children’s board send monthly report to the state government. The state government must see to it that the child workers are not exploited and their employers fully abide by the labour welfare legislation.

(viii) It is suggested that Article 45 of the Constitution be strictly enforced by providing mid-day meals, free supply of books, uniforms and other necessaries so that the school-going children do not depend on their parents.

(ix) It is suggested that the government intensify the steps to achieve cent percent literacy by undertaking Adult Education Programme, which in turn will enable parents to realize the need and importance of education.

(x) It is suggested that wide publicity be given to the evils of child labour and the parents be made aware of the problem of child labour.

 

(4) Welfare Policy    

(i) Government should implement such action plan in the areas where child labour concentration is much child higher. These areas should get priority.

(ii) Generally, children work in the appalling conditions in the informal sectors and small-scale enterprises. Their poor working conditions include the long hours of work, short rest intervals, lack of weekly-offs and other holidays, safety and health hazards, physical and psychological abuse, lower wages etc. To protect the child exploitation, legal measures are policy. Child labour laws can play a catalytic and supportive role in establishing a more humane socio-economic order. Since the possibility for the enforcement of protective laws in the unorganized sector is limited, importance should be given to the supportive action that bring improvements in the working and living conditions of children so that the evils efforts of the premature work on their health , growth and future life could be minimized. The legal help could be taken to reduce the working hours, providing weekly off minimum wages and equal for equal amount of work to men, women and children, prohibition on lifting excessively heavy loads etc.

(iii) The Government must persuade the employers of the child workers to provide compulsory insurance scheme for them taking them into account the nature of their employment. The government must ensure that every child workers is insured for at least of minimum of Rs 50000.

(iv) There is the need for change in social attitude and in the context mass media should be assigned a constructive role.

(5) Rehabilitation Programme

(i) Any legislation for totally prohibiting child labour amount to hardships to the poor parents and their children unless they are rehabilitated or their families are provided alternative source of income.

(ii) Most of rehabilitation programme today aim at improving the working environment of the child and are hence helping to perpetuate this evil. The ultimate aim his to be the abolition of child labour and all governmental programmes must work towards fulfilling this objective.

(iii) Child labour should not be under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labour. The rehabilitation programme comes under Education Department, Health Department, and Rural Development Department etc. Coordination with these departments is often a major hurdle. Therefore a child labour should be under the Ministry of Welfare because it should be better suited to deal with the problem in its various dimensions. Land reforms programmes should be strictly implemented. Land to the landless must be provided as most of the families of child labour are landless.

(6) Rural Development Policy

(i) Since more than 75 percent people of the state depend on agriculture, this sector should be developed in a proper way. It provides employment to a sizeable population. Poor families having child labour should be provided free fertilizer, insecticides and seeds etc.

(ii) In rural area investment in better irrigation, credit and market facilities should be made available so that rural people can get more out of their land. Programme of Dairy Development and Fisheries must be started.

(iii) Village, cottage and small-scale industries should be promoted on a large-scale for reducing unemployment among the adults. Red tapism and other unnecessary formalities should be minimized in such schemes.

(iv) Agro-based industries should be promoted to all possible extent for income generation among the rural people.

(v) Voluntary efforts to undertake innovative experiments in early childhood education be welcomed and supported.

(vi) Major research must be undertaken and each child labour concentration area studied separately in its particular context and local setting. It is only after such detailed studies are conducted that rehabilitation programmes can be formulated and effectively implemented.

(vii) Campaign against child labour can make use of the variety of forms in multi-media, which reach varied segments of people. Apart from the conventional format of press/magazine advertisements, TV, Films, Video Direct Mail, brochures and posters, other potent media for rural area are puppet shows plays and street theatre. Full-fledged exhibitions in the capital and state capital would also be help in bringing interested people together. Since this is the age of media it can be used as an effective tool in combating the child labour.

(viii) What the poor need is at stake in the land they till, fair wages for their work, education, training and upgradation of skills, credit and infrastructure support for self-employment in primary , secondary and territory sectors. Above all, they need self-confidence and social recognition to come out of the poverty trap.

(ix) Voluntary organizations in rural sectors can play an important role in eradicating the child labour problem, so they must come forward.

(7) Health Policy        

(i) Perhaps one of the most important among the measures urgently needed in India for the protection of children is adequate health service at school as well as the work place.

(ii) Children are more prone to occupational risks and accidents and, therefore, should be provided with better occupational safety and health services. Gloves and other protective items should be provided to the total workers and pot cleaning. Efforts should be made for making the working and living environment more hygienic and congenial. Actions should also be aimed at protecting children from work-associated diseases.

(iii) It is suggested that the government implement suitable Family Welfare Schemes and if possible, adopt suitable population policy to restrict the family to one child.

(iv) Adequate medical and recreation facilities should be provided to the deprived children for their emotional and psychological developments.

(8) Nutrition        

Most of the child workers hail from poor families they often suffer from under nutrition. The long working hours and the additional energy requirements for excessive work and physical growth creates nutritional deficiencies in them. Therefore, the provision of supplementary feeding programme for working children should be given an important place in the improvement of their working conditions. Employers should be persuaded to provide nutritional food to child workers at subsidized rates, if not free of cost.

(9) Working Conditions

(i) The scope of Child labour (prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 should be extended with a view to cover factories of all types where any kind of processing is carried on by the owners with the help of the children. Efforts must also be made to extend the scope of the Act to even unorganized sectors such as tea- stalls, dhabas and sweat shop etc where children are being employed on a large scale.

(ii) Apart from the occupational risks, children need to be protected from the other organizational problem such as excessively long working hours, night work, piece rate payment system, etc. They should be provided with adequate tools and equipments and at least, the simple protective clothings. They should also be ensured social security, including medical care and sickness benefits.

(iii) There should be periodical medical check-ups of the working children and this practice should be enforced through proper laws, especially in keeping the working environment hygienically free from smoke, dust etc.

(iv) The working hours for child labour should not be more than six hours a day which is the requirement of the law itself.

(10) Wage Policy

 (i) The central Government must direct the state governments to bring the wages of child labour at par with those of adults in pursuance of its policy of gradual elimination of child labour. Implementation of the Minimum Wage Act also needs a lot of attention and the state government should take action to ensure a better compliance of the Minimum Wage Act. Mere passing of laws is not enough unless concrete efforts are made by the states to give effect to these legislations.

(ii) Employer must be required to pay minimum wage to every child, below which no child should be employed. The minimum wage should be provided as directed by the Supreme Court in M.C Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu and Others (AIR 1997 SC 699).

(iii) The owners of unorganized sector must be directed to maintain a register of employment dealing with the names of all child workers, their obligation to furnish this detail to the child welfare department concern to see how far the employers are carrying out the legislation requirements with regard to child workers.

(11) Moral Protection

 (i) Self-employed children face a huge competition with the adults employed in the same occupation. Many of these adults use all kinds of immoral ways to put their junior competitors down, such as to abuse or beat these children, snatch or throw away their money and material teach them bad habits like gambling, smoking, drinking, etc. Lack of protection may also bring these children in contact with the undesirable elements, leading them to vagrancy, delinquency, prostitution, drug running etc. Protection should be provided to these children against the occupational competition with adults and moral degration. 

(ii) Facilities for sports and cultural activities should be provided to children at their place of work as well as residence. Laws should be made to force employers to provide these facilities with the actual and regular participation of children in recreation activities, which would help in their overall development as well as stop them from drifting into vagrancy and delinquency.

(iii) The aim of the moral protection should be to reduce the intensity of child labour and improve the quality of working condition for children. The protective laws.      

(12) Role of Trade Union

(i) It is suggested that the government should initiative dialogue with the trade union at early date so that some institutional framework could be evolved for encouraging collective bargaining in respect of the needs of working children. It is quite certain that if trade unions are actively associated by the government for framing the basic schemes and policies ‘for combating the child labour their involvement would be prove to be quite gainful and their involvement would result in requisite acceptability of the scheme so framed in this regard.

(ii) The trade unions can play an important role in the implementation of existing laws on the minimum wages for admission to employment, minimum wage, working hours and rest intervals. Since working children are not members of the trade unions, they do not have the bargaining capacity over their conditions of work. The lack of patronage makes children the most exploited group, who can be fired any time despite the lowest possible working hours. Trade unions can work more effectively if they comprehend the physical and mental havoc the working children have to face, and the fact that child labour reduces adult wages as well as adult employment.

(13) Role of Non-Governmental Organization 

 Non-Governmental organization and other social action group have played a meaningful role for mitigating the suffering of child labour to a greater extent. It could be reasonably expected that such social action groups would operate effectively in order to restrain the employer form exploding the child labour by imposing social and legal sanctions against them on the pattern of carpet industry. To accomplish the desired goals these voluntary agencies would be required to work in a well coordinated manner by formulating suitable programmes and policies at international as well as the national level.

(14) Public Awareness        

(i) There is need to arouse awareness about the child labour. Public lectures can also be organized with more emphasis on the problem and its repercussions. People specially employers and the parents of children should be made aware of the existing laws concerning child labour and the penalties imposed upon flouting them. Measures should be taken for stricter implementations of these laws. The lapse of employers in implementing legislative and other provisions regarding working children should be widely publicized in order to build a strong opinion against defaulters. It is also an effective tool for eradication of child labour.

(ii) There is need to bring consciousness among the children so that they may be aware of their constitutional rights and relief accordingly. This is again possible with the help of radio, television, spread of education and literacy campaign.

 

Many efforts are at its peak to eliminate the child labour. It is hoped that the world particularly the developing countries like India will see the new rays of hope in the new century and millennium. The path is very long difficult, but we are hopeful and industrious. Certainty it will bring victory one day.

 



[1] Section 2(iv) defines establishment as a shop, commercial establishment, workshop, farm, residential hotel, restaurant, eating house, theatre, or other place of public amusement or entertainment.


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