12 June marks the World Day Against Child Labour, established by the International Labour Organization (ILO) over a decade ago which aims to raise awareness of "the plight of children engaged in work that deprives them of adequate education, health, leisure and basic freedoms". The most recent ILO reports estimate that 168 million children worldwide - one in ten - are involved in child labour, 85 million of which are also engaged in hazardous work. BSCI and its participating companies consider the eradication of child labour a priority when addressing working conditions in their supply chains and through the newly updated BSCI Code of Conduct, they are engaged in the protection of children from this form of exploitation. Complementing the current "No Child Labour"principle in the Code of Conduct, a specific principle has been added to highlight the "Special Protection of Young Workers".
This calls on business partners to set the necessary mechanisms to prevent, identify and mitigate harm to young workers; with special attention to the access they have to effective grievance mechanisms and to Occupational Health and Safety training and programs. In addition BSCI is engaged in increasing awareness and fighting the issue of child labour through training the buyers of retail and importing companies as well as through the specific programs it supports. For instance, in India, BSCI is coordinating a joint research project between BSCI companies and other European brands. This project aims to generate an in-depth understanding of the scale and root causes of homeworking and child labour in the Indian footwear industry.
This research project will allow participating companies to gain a deeper insight into the issue of sub-contracting in local supply chains and the risk associated with child labour. Furthermore, through the BSCI Stakeholder Council, BSCI counts on the valuable guidance provided by high-level experts of various organisations, including NGOs, trade unions, government representatives. This governance body reflects BSCI's engagement in the elimination of child labour from supply chains, through involving organisations such as Save the Children, and more recently UNICEF, that will provide expert advice on best practices and approaches to achieve this goal. However, to support eradication of child labour, coordinated action together with other stakeholders and particularly public authorities in sourcing countries is required to effectively enforce laws prohibiting child labour and to address its root causes. BSCI with more than 1,300 participants will continue working towards this goal.