The Secretary General of the Central Organization of Trade Unions, COTU (K) Francis Atwoli was reelected unopposed as the President of the Continent’s Pan-African Labour Movement, the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, OATUU during its 11th Ordinary Congress currently taking place in Bamako, Mali.
The Congress, that was officially opened by Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita brought together over three hundred top trade union leaders from the fifty four (54) African countries with Atwoli being proposed by his counterpart from Algeria to the coveted position of President of OATUU for a period of four years following the end of his tenure in the same office and was seconded by GHANA before the rest of the countries led by their respective heads of delegation unanimously rose to install Atwoli in the Position of OATUU President unopposed.
Also elected during the same Congress was the Organization’s Secretary General Arezki Mezhoud from ALGERIA who will be deputized by Emanuel Nzunda from Tanzania with Ibrahim Abrar from Eritrea being elected in the position of Treasurer General.
In his acceptance speech soon after his historical election, Atwoli vowed to champion for the strengthening of the trade union movement on the continent as well as for the independence of the movement especially from their respective governments’ undue influence adding that Trade Unions should be able to take on any government that infringes on the rights of workers and proceeded to put on notice what he termed to the most ‘notorious’ governments on the continent who view Trade Unions as ‘impediments’ to the country’s economic growth.
He urged Unions on the continent to be however responsible and execute their mandate while alive to the changing social economic dynamics now driving the global economy noting that Unions should take lead on issues of research and innovations since it is through such initiatives that they will be able to confront employers in pursuit of better terms and conditions of service for their members.
He at the same time challenged the African Union, AU to consider supporting OATUU as a Pan-African Labour Movement and bearing in mind that the organization now enjoys observer status at the AU and engages the AU through its Social Affairs Commission.
He singled out countries like Ghana, Sudan and Algeria to be among those whose respective heads of state have been supportive of OATUU financially and challenged the rest of the African countries including Kenya to honour their social obligation to the continent’s Workers by paying their entitlement dues to OATUU as part of their support to the Continent’s Pan -African Labour Movement.
Earlier, Atwoli on arrival in Mali paid a courtesy call to President Keita during which they discussed various issues affecting workers on the Continent and beyond as well as the particular issues affecting the East African region with Atwoli personally appealing to the Malian leader to consider supporting OATUU with finances to which the President responded in the affirmative saying his government will soon commit to a long time support towards OATUU and directed his Ministers present to proceed and liaise with OATUU leadership with a view to working out modalities on how the same will be executed.
OATUU is a Pan-African Labour Movement that brings together the continent’s fifty four (54) countries and has its headquarters based in Accra Ghana where both its Secretary General, Assistant together with Treasurer General being full time officers of the organization involved in day to day running of the organization that speaks for Africa through its President on behalf of workers on the continent
By Barasa Adams
Personal Assistant to the Secretary General COTU-K