March 18, 2017
On 9th and 10th March, 2017, The Bahamas Department of Labour and The Royal Bahamas Police Force in conjunction with the International Labour Organization (ILO), Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC) and The Government of Brazil hosted a two day seminar on “School-to-Work Transition for the Prevention of Child Labour” This seminar encompassed a review of experiences and good practices in the Brazilian Apprenticeship System.
The conference delegation included a six (6) member team from the Ministry of Labour Brazil, ILO Brazil and Trinidad, and representatives from various local agencies comprising the tripartite partnership including The Bahamas Department of Labour, Department of Social Services, Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI), National Training Agency (NTA), Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Urban Renewal Commission, Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), University of The Bahamas, Department of Statistics, Ministry of National Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and -various local trade unions including the National Trade Union Congress (NCTU), Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU), CBC, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Bahamas Nurses Union.
Minister of Labour & National Insurance, Minister Shane Gibson, MP who officially opened the two-day seminar, addressed the attendees and made remarks on the Elimination of Child Labour.
He noted that “Here in The Bahamas, incidences of child labour can be found in some grocery stores, where young boys and girls work as packers.
The law dictates that children under age 14 should not work but if they are allowed to work, it should be for a limited period of time after school hours.
It has been discovered, though, that some parents use these grocery stores as day care centers for their children until they leave work as well as additional income to provide their children with lunch money.
The employer often argues that because packers do not earn salaries and only work for tips, they are not technically employed by the grocery stores.
However, I am advised that these children also assist with re-stocking shelves and mopping the floors and can be seen working until closing time at night.
Another example of child labour here in The Bahamas is children working at family-owned businesses including restaurants, even though they are not considered employees.
These are minor examples as The Bahamas does not have sweatshops or major factories, as do other countries where child labour is more prevalent.”
The Minister noted that, “it is important that we all play a critical role in eliminating all forms of child labour to ensure that generations of Bahamians born and unborn get to fully enjoy their childhood and are afforded the best opportunity to gain an education.”
He concluded remarks by challenging stakeholders, “…As the Government of The Bahamas and Brazil build this new partnership, I wish to encourage all stakeholders to carefully study many strategies undertaken by Brazil and submit a comprehensive report to the Government to ensure that we establish a national policy in support of the eradication of all forms of Child Labour in our beloved country.”
The seminar participants, on Day One, received information on the background of Apprenticeship Programs in Brazil, laws and suggested amendments to their laws, contracts, standards, compliance and monitoring, Labour Rights of Apprentices.
The role of the Government and the Social partners, policy and curriculum creation and development, school-to-company flow and the capacity to meet the demands of the Labour Market was discussed on the final day where a Professional Apprenticeship Development in Secondary schools was the focus.
The delegation was also able to take a Field Visit to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture – Fresh Start Programme and the National Training Agency where current local models of Apprenticeship Programmes was examined.
Director of Labour, Mr. Robert Farquharson stated, “As part of the regional initiative on Child Labour sponsored by ILO and Brazil, this seminar represents the technical assistance that the Government of The Bahamas requested from the Government of Brazil.
This form of technical assistance is another example of ‘South-South Cooperation’ between the Bahamas and other developing countries to address issues through sharing resources and expert knowledge.”
Resel Melville, ILO Trinidad - National Project Coordinator for the Regional Initiative to ensure that Latin America and the Caribbean are Free of Child Labour, who was apart of the delegation, is quoted as saying, "In light of the increasing attention being given to youth development and to addressing youth unemployment in the Bahamas, the ILO and ABC team was well pleased at the level of attendance and engagement by the various stakeholders during the two-day Seminar on Apprenticeships for the Elimination of Child Labour.
This mission not only allowed the Government of Brazil to share its experiences but also provided an opportunity for the visiting team to learn about and connect with persons involved in some of the existing initiatives being undertaken by the Government and other agencies in the Bahamas.
We came away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the situation and systems in the Bahamas, which will certainly be instructive in the development of further cooperation initiatives between the ILO and the people and Governments of Brazil and the Bahamas."
Assistant Director of Labour, Ms. Kalin Griffin, who also served as seminar coordinator and is the subject matter expert of Child Labour in The Bahamas is also pleased with the information imparted to social partners during the seminar and stated that the overall goal, as noted by the Minister is the “Creation of Child Labour Policy, outreach in our communities for greater understanding of child labour laws, and sensitization towards monitoring and reporting of instances of Child Labour in The Bahamas.”
The conference was held at the Paul H. Farquharson Conference Center.
Pia T. Rolle
Public Relations Officer