Input by COSATU General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali at the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour in Durban

Your excellencies

The Premier of KwaZulu Natal Province Mr Zikalala

The Mayor of EThekwini

Ministers present here

Vice President of Malawi His Excellency Mr Chilima

The Executive Director and Executive Officer of the Federation of the Kenya Employers and the International Organisationnof Employers Vice President Ms Jacqueline Mugo

The Deputy Secretary General in the Office of the Secretary General Ma Amina Mohammed

The Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Saryarthi

The young activist representative of the young generation whose future we are destroying and today we are trying to rebuild ( save the Children Activist Ms Thato Mhlungu

Former Swedish Prime Minister Mr Lofven

The ILO Director General Mr Guy Ryder

The South African President his ExcellencyPresident Ramaphosa

Friends and Delegates and our international guests

On behalf of the Workers Group it is an honour and privilege to stand before you and say few words of welcoming you all to this conference.

Like the environmental or climate change campaign the child Labour is not an act God, but a human made problem, which culprits in a differentiated way are here, and only we can eliminate the child Labour.

Personally, I am delighted that in this panel there so many General Secretaries or Secretaries General . Mr Zikalala is a former Secretary General of Youth League, Ms Amina Mohammed’s Deputy Secretary General in the UN family, Mr Thulas Nxesi is a former General Secretary of Teachers Union, Mr Guy Ryder is former General Secretary and President Ramaphosa is both a former General Secretary and former Secretary General of Governing ruling party and of Mineworkers, at your own time you would connect the dots why Workers delegates a General Secretary not a President to deliver this welcoming message. Let me not forget to recognise my President and the President of SATUCC President Zingiswa Losi.

The panelist’s in the different segments are well positioned to share experience but more importantly to share ideas how to speed up the process to eliminate child labour, particularly in the increment of child support grant, access to education, etc more needs to be done

The situation is South Africa is no different from the rest of the world. While we have seen significant strides forward on reducing the number of working children due to social protection schemes such as bolds familia in Brasil, free education, no fee schools, and school feeding schemes in South Africa.

In the last decade, we have seen 94 million few children in child Labour, and now this progress is at risk.

The impact of economic crisis, increasing unemployment and poverty and inequalities, the impact of the Covid pandemic, soaring food and energy prices and War in Ukraine are likely to reverse and make the global target to end child Labour harder to achieve.

The world is 3 times richer today than 20 years ago, yet 79% of people are denied universal social protection, 84% of people say the minimum wage is not enough to live on and 81% of countries have allowed violations of the right to collective bargaining.

The recent increase in the child Labour shows that poverty and the inability to absorb economic shocks render households vulnerable to child labour. The only way to prevent it is to establish a new social contract between workers, governments, and business, that ensures that rights are respected, jobs are decent with minimum living wages and collective bargaining, social protection is universal, due diligence and accountability are driving business operations, and that social dialogue ensures just transition measures for climate and technology

We need to rebalance our societies to become more resilient against future crises, be Environmental, health or conflict related or child labour.

The latest estimates show there are more children in the Sub-Saharan Africa (86.6 m) that the rest of the world combined, and the vast majority, 4 out every 5 children, are engaged in child labour within the agricultural sector. This is where we need focus our urgent attention.

We must act to prevent a human catastrophe. We owe it to these 86.6 million children in Africa and the 160 million children world-wide that are being deprived of their childhood and their future undermined.

We must use these few days to commit to concrete action before it is too late.

We all know what works to fight child labour, but we seem to have dropped the ball.

We have a toolbox filled with cash transfers, public employment programmes, social protection initiatives, social insurance, rural and agricultural development programmes, committed teachers and schools, mandatory due diligence laws, collective bargaining for living wages all of which have proven their effectiveness i. The eradication of child Labour.

Mr President and all excellencies we have wisdom, power, and resources to deliver the urgent needed interventions. An interactive and action- oriented approach is a must if we hope to succeed. What we do not have is a luxury of time. Yes, we are sitting on a ticking time bomb. The time for Action is Now!!

We wish this conference all the best and we should not fail our children. Thank you so much.