The Freundel Stuart administration on Friday vowed to crack down on child labour in Barbados, and to strengthen safeguards for workers in the informal sector.
The commitments were given by Minister of Labour Senator Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo at the conclusion of a three-day Inter-American Labour Ministers meeting at Hilton Barbados Resort.
She said Government intends to move towards the implementation of a data collection system to determine the extent of the problem of child labour in the country, and also plans to sensitize residents about the scourge.
“I did get some information on how we could go forward with data collection . . . . We know we have to start with the data and that is where I want us to start addressing the matter of child labour in Barbados, looking at evidence-based data collection so that we know what the problem is and how we need to address it,” said Dr Byer-Suckoo in her closing comments to the meeting.
“The dialogue will commence in Barbados on the matter of child labour and we’ll also be looking at legislation and policies in concert with our Social Partnership.”
The minister thanked the officials present for the experiences and ideas put forward at the meeting.
“Your offers of assistance will be useful and we are aware that the social and economic difficulties, as well as issues peculiar to undocumented migrants, can cause a surge in this problem of child labour. We do not want to bury our heads in the sand and say ‘well, we don’t have any data’,” she said.
Meanwhile, the minister said Government will be paying closer attention to the informal sector to ensure the workers are not put at a disadvantage.
This, Byer-Suckoo noted, was particularly important in light of the number of employees who have been retrenched.
“That is something we’re looking to address because we know that the informal sector is going to have to absorb a lot of our unemployed persons, but we want to make sure that they’re guaranteed a space for decent work, that they have social protection and so on,” she asserted.
“We are committed to decent work in Barbados, to full employment, to equity and inclusion and, of course, the eradication of discrimination. The political will is there.”