Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
Getrude Makhafola and Waghied Misbach
Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana yesterday lambasted those who employed children, calling them criminals, and warned that they would be dealt with in the harshest way possible.
Mdladlana, who is also the chairman of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), made his comments in a Workers' Day speech to members of the formerly whites-only Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and the black consciousness-orientated National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu).
"We have been prohibiting child labour and we have made inroads in a number of initiatives," he said.
"Offences such as child trafficking makes the situation worse as children are sold and forced to work.
"We appeal to people not to hire children, but to instead give them the money to go to school," Mdladlana said.
The minister said that those who hired children were criminals and were promoting criminality.
"We have held road shows to make people aware of child labour," he said.
"This is a serious matter and employers who continue to practise child labour will have nowhere to hide," he warned.
Meanwhile, speaking at a Workers' Day rally on the Cape Flats near Cape Town organised by Fedusa and Nactu, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said: "I want to touch on three areas, where I believe workers have immense power, but we're not seeing that power come out."
He said these included improving skills development, tackling pension fund fraud and ensuring better service delivery from unionised public servants. He criticised workers for not doing more.