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General News of Tuesday, 22 June 2021


Labour Minister storms out of interview over question on child labour

Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffuor Awuah Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffuor Awuah

The Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffuor Awuah shocked journalists in Koforidua in the Eastern region when he stormed out of an interview after a question on political will in the fight against child labour.

The Minister was about to be interviewed by journalists on the sidelines of a Parliamentary Select Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprise Seminar on Child Labour where he addressed participants about the existence of child labour in various communities and its repercussions on the victims and international trade, particularly cocoa commodity.

The first question asked by a GhanaWeb journalist McAnthony Dagyenga said: “Honourable, we are in 2021 and child labour still seems to be a big challenge in Ghana. Is it that the political will to curb this challenge has been low?” got the Minister infuriated and stormed out of the interview.

Mr Baffour-Awuah quickly retorted “I will not answer this question. If this is how you are starting your interview, I will not answer. Any small opportunity you people get you to want to push somebody into politics. I won’t answer. Have you people been seeing me featuring on your programmes?”. The minister then walked away from the interview.

Surprised by the action of the Minister, the journalists kept wondering how a question of political will by governments on child labour constitutes politicization of the menace.

According to UNICEF, of all children in Ghana aged 5 to 17 years, about 21 per cent are involved in child labour and 14 per cent are engaged in hazardous forms of labour. This is twice as common in rural areas.

For poorer households, child labour is a negative coping mechanism and most of the children are involved in agriculture and fishing industries. In all regions, the vast majority of working children are unpaid family workers between the ages of 5 and 7 years. While usually, boys are more likely to be doing manual work, this could be due to the household interpretation of what constitutes child labour. Thus, the heavy domestic workload for girls, including childcare, is not considered labour.

There are no reliable figures on the number of children affected by the worst forms of child labour (sale of children, child prostitution and trafficking) and children living and working on the streets of Ghana.

While accurate numbers of human trafficking cases don’t exist, it is believed that the large majority of all cases involve children, mainly girls.