LAHORE - The district coordination officers (DCOs) and divisional police officers (DPOs) at district level and assistant commissioners (ACs) and sub-divisional police officers (SDPOs) at tehsil level will act as inspectors to eliminate child labour from the province.

They will be acting under the Punjab Restriction on Employment of Children Ordinance, 2016. A notification to this effect will be issued later.

It was decided at the 3rd meeting of steering committee on CM’s initiative for the elimination of child labour from three sectors that include auto workshops, hotels and restaurants and petrol pumps and service stations.

The meeting was attended by secretaries to schools department, literacy department, MD PEF, DG Punjab Bureau of statistics (BOS), The CEO urban unit, the CEO Punjab Social Protection Authority, the MD PVTC and the PD Integrated Project.

The minister for labour chaired the meeting.

The purpose is to curb child labour and to ensure their enrolment at schools the above-mentioned officers would perform as monitors.

It was also agreed that the inspectors will perform duties till the expiry of the said ordinance which is mandatory to ensure effective child labour inspection, prosecution, and conviction.

The DG BOS was of the view that a baseline survey was conducted in 10 districts for an integrated project of the labour department. The rural areas and slums were left uncovered in the baseline survey in the first phase but in second and third phases these were included.

On this, the chief secretary who co-chaired the session was surprised and showed his concern. He stressed that on completion, the survey in phase 1 needs to be repeated to cover the leftover areas.

The urban unit is also conducting child labour survey. Out of 39 tehsils of 10 districts, a sample of four tehsils was randomly selected. The tehsils included Shujabad district Multan, Khanpur district RY Khan, Okara city district Okara and Kamoki district Gujranwala. The Urban Unit also indicated the gaps in the BOS baseline survey data.

Official sources said that it was Punjab CM’s initiative for eliminating child labour from the province in three designated areas. They said that the CM’s initiative gave universal coverage to the children engaged in child labour in three sectors. The activities and incentives for rehabilitation and socioeconomic well-being of the child labour and their families are almost common. The PC-1 will also be revised to help fill this gap for achieving the ultimate goal of the universal elimination of child labour. They said technical support of agencies could be sought to revise the PC-1 and the integrated project had limited capacity.

It was also decided that to compete for the project activities, a pool of vehicles will also be established so that officers’ mobility to the targeted places could be ensured.

It is to be mentioned here that the Punjab government had banned employment of children and restricted the working of youth aged between 15 to 18 years at hazardous places. The ban was imposed under the “Punjab Restriction on Employment of Children Ordinance, 2016”.

The ordinance significantly protects children and adolescents against any form of slavery or practices such as their sale and trafficking, debt bondage and serfdom, forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment for use in armed conflicts. It bans using, procuring or offering of a child or adolescent for prostitution, production of pornography or for pornographic performances, and illicit activities, particularly the production and trafficking of drugs. Its third major aspect is the regulation of the work of adolescents at occupations and processes which are not hazardous to guard against their exploitation.

The ordinance regulates the employment of adolescents for work that is not hazardous by different means and work time shall not exceed three hours. And if he is required to work for more than three hours in a day, the employer shall provide a mandatory interval of at least one hour for rest to him immediately after three hours of work, moreover, the total period of work including mandatory interval for rest, shall not exceed seven hours. The ordinance disallows work of an adolescent between 7pm and 8am, or overtime and says the working hours should not clash with the school or educational institution timings of the adolescent, allowing him a weekly holiday.

The ordinance also includes that the employing or permitting to work a child in an establishment is punishable with up to six-month imprisonment which shall not be less than seven days, and with up to Rs50,000 fine which shall not be less than Rs10,000. There is up to six-month imprisonment and up to Rs75,000 fine or both for employing or permitting any adolescent to indulge in any hazardous work. The second conviction means up to five-year imprisonment which shall not be less than three months. Enslaving children and adolescents or using them for immoral activities, prostitution, drug production or trafficking shall be punished with up to Rs1 million fine which is not less than Rs200,000 or up to five-year imprisonment, or with both.