RE: – AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS SHOULD RESPECT AND APPRECIATE WORKERS
African governments have been challenged against viewing trade unions as ease targets for attack and harass whenever there is instability in their governments.
Speaking when he hosted delegates from the fifty four African Countries to a Cocktail Party on the sidelines of the on-going annual International Labour Organization Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, the President of Organization of African Trade Union Unity, OATUU who is also the Central Organization of Trade Unions, COTU (K) Secretary General Francis Atwoli said there is growing concern from trade union leaders across the continent that their governments continue to view then as threats as opposed to being viewed as partners in the development of their respective countries.
Atwoli noted that it is workers who toil towards growing the economy of every nation and any challenge that any nation faces affects workers in equal measure because a robust economy will automatically translate into better terms and conditions of work for a worker and the perception among some governments that workers and their organizations are a threat to the country’s economy and governance structures is far-fetched because we all need a stable and functioning government so that to be able to work and earn one’s daily bread.
Atwoli cited the example of Sudan where soon after the ouster of former President Omar Al-Bashir the new regime moved to deregister the trade union movement in the country before reversing the decision upon international pressure adding it is Trade Unions that brought independence in most African countries including Latin America at a time when the political class was under arrest and trade unions should be respected and recognized as an important segment of the society whose contribution to any country cannot be underestimated.
He urged all the trade union leaders present not to relent in their push for governments to respect and recognize them adding their success lies in their ability to mobilize and remain strong to be relevant on the national scene and be fully involved in various government policies with a view to influencing them in favour of workers.
At the same time he cautioned governments against taking unilateral decisions and imposing them to workers saying whereas most African countries have ratified ILO Convention 144 on tripartite Consultations for government, employers and workers, most governments thrive on impunity where they proceed on to making pertinent national decisions without consulting workers yet they want the very workers to help in executing these decisions.
Atwoli promised that as OATUU president, he will be hosting all trade union leaders from the continent in Nairobi in the month of August to debate and engage each other on the issues affecting workers on the continent and soon after the Nairobi meeting he will liaise with the OATUU Secretariat in rolling out a Programme that will see him visit every individual trade union center on the continent and seek ways of strengthening the labour movement on the Entire African Continent.
The delegates vowed to support this initiative and urged Atwoli to soldier on in his efforts to build a United, strong and democratic trade union movement on the African Continent.
Dr. Francis Atwoli, NOM (DZA) EBS, MBS