Education International
Education International

Germany: trade unionists take action against child labour

published 26 June 2013 updated 2 July 2013

During its recent Congress, the Gewerkschaft Erziehung and Wissenschaft (GEW) has reaffirmed its commitment to the right to unrestricted and free access to quality education for everyone as a basic human right, to the UN Millennium Development Goals and to EI’s resolutions on education and on the elimination of child labour.

The GEW Congress called on EI to put more emphasis on the development of better quality and free public education in all countries and to campaign to achieve it.

Push to ban child labour

The Congress recognised that child labour is one of the biggest obstacles to the implementation of the human right to quality education. At the same time, child labour is the worst form of wage dumping and denial of workers' rights. Given that the world is progressively and increasingly tied to the economy, consequently increasing precariousness in people’s lives, the GEW Congress urged its members and branches to join the international trade union movement’s fight for decent work through goal-oriented demands and actions.

The GEW Congress welcomed the “Education instead of child labour” decision by the GEW board adopted in 2010, and the setting up of the “Fair Childhood” Foundation. It called on the GEW executive bodies to continue this work with vigour.

A catalogue of objectives for education and development

The Congress also recommended the development of a “catalogue of objectives for education and development” for GEW’s international work.

This catalogue of objectives should include:

• Defining GEW’s education and development policies in its international work

• Designing concrete goals and strategies

• Merging the previous activities of international solidarity work

• Integrating education and higher education policy work at the international level

• Designing guidelines for active domestic work on development policy

The development objectives should be based on the decisions of EI, the European Trade Union Committee for Education, the International Trade Union Confederation, and on previous GEW resolutions. They should demonstrate international cooperation opportunities with partner unions and non-governmental organisations, congress delegates added.

EI: Children must be in school

“We entirely support our German colleagues in their fight to ensure access to quality education for all,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, speaking at the GEW congress. “EI has set itself the goal of working with kindred organisations to eradicate child labour.”

Children everywhere must be at school, not at work, he stated.