Our Child Labour Free Zones
Ghana - General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU)
The General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) is the biggest trade union organizing farmers and agricultural employees in Ghana. GAWU was established in 1959 from a merger of five agricultural trade unions.
Beginning 1979, GAWU extended organizational activity to self-employed agricultural workers in the informal sector. GAWU has been involved in a nation-wide campaign against child labour, in collaboration with various local and international partners.
Key elements of the Child Labour Free Zone concept in Ghana
Unionising of informal employees
GAWU recognised that most working children are found in informal employment, and hence has taken the initiative to unionise farmers and other rural workers within the informal economy under its Rural Workers Organisational Programme. These unions campaign against child labour in a sector where the work of children is generally unregulated and where children are most vulnerable to exploitation. This has proved to be effective in keeping children out of work while also improving the working conditions of adults and their employment opportunities.
The local farmers union has also helped create alternative income generating activities to supplement family incomes and increase food security. Parents are now able to afford purchasing uniforms and learning materials for their children.
Advocacy in parliament
GAWU has been lobbying parliamentary committees to urge relevant government ministries to reform their policies on child labour and education and implement them. Through such advocacy activities, GAWU has created an opportunity to influence law makers who have an oversight function over the executive arm of government. Law makers are in a position to compel the relevant ministries to reform their policies and to actually implement them. By so doing, GAWU is reminding government of its responsibility to stamp out child labour as well as make provision for quality education.
Strategic partnership with media; public opinion surveys and mass action
Taking advantage of the media is a strategy which GAWU is using to get its messages across to as wide an audience as possible. The use of this medium of communication means that GAWU reaches a wider area of the country and higher numbers of people about the dangers of child labour and the importance of school and creates awareness of the Child Labour Free Zone programme itself.
The public opinion surveys that GAWU carries out to keep abreast with how the public is receiving their messages, helps inform their advocacy strategies and the areas of concern they need to attend to. This can be an effective monitoring and evaluation strategy of the CLFZ programme. The public demonstrations and picketing which GAWU occasionally organises to compel employers to employ adults may get children out of work and into school. Together, these strategies create opportunities for awareness-raising about child labour on a national scale, and for all stakeholders in the country to partake in the development and expansion of the programme.