Speech By Brother Francis Atwoli, Ebs, Mbs,President Oatuu, Chairman Eatuc & Secretary General, Cotu (K) During The Trade Union And Principles Of Freedom Of Association In Eastern Africa.Held On 23rd-24th October, 2014 At Tom Mboya Labour College, Kisumu.
Bro. Kwasi Adu-Amankwah
The General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation, African Regional Organization, (ITUC- Africa)
Bro. Alex Bonney
Representing the General Secretary, Organisation of African Trade Union Unity, (OATUU)
Bro. Wellington Chibebe
The Deputy Secretary General of International Trade Union Confederation, (ITUC Brussels)
Sis. Caroline Mugalla
The Executive Secretary, East African Trade Union Confederation, (EATUC)
Bro. Tharcisse Gahungu
General Secretary COSYBU Burundi
Bro. Berhanu Biruu
The General Secretary of the Congress of Ethiopian Trade Union, (CETU)
Bro. Eric Manzi
The General Secretary CESTRAR Rwanda
Bro. Peter Werikhe
The General Secretary NOTU Uganda
Bro. Rajabu Mwondi MBS
The Chairman General, COTU (K)
Sis. Carolyne Rutto
The Assistant Secretary General, COTU (K)
•It is my great pleasure on behalf of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions, COTU (K), the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) and the East African Trade Union Confederation (EATUC) to formally welcome you all to Kenya and to our Tom Mboya Labour College here in Kisumu.
•Brothers and Sisters, the subject of Trade Union Unity and Principles of Freedom of Association has over the years remained core to the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s agenda with the trade union movement globally uniting towards its achievement.
•The commitment with which these principles have been pursued together with the quest for decent work and social justice among the laboring poor has led us to overcome hundreds of challenges facing the sub-region and beyond.
•No doubt we are all aware that the primary goal of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in its journey towards the decent work agenda is to promote opportunities for the working men and women to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.
•However, as a sub-region, we can achieve these because Africa has a tremendous growth and development potential where our labour markets are characterized by a huge urban informal economy that co-exist with a predominantly rural, agriculture based labour force.
•In this regard, the social partners remain key actors in addressing the challenges underlying the creation of employment opportunities for both women and men to work productively and earn themselves a decent livelihoods.
•Brothers and Sisters, one of the most important conditions for the existence of a just society is respect for fundamental rights and freedoms and among these freedoms is freedom of expression considered the most precious and indeed the very foundation of a just society.
•Trade Union leaders’ extensive and participatory debates in the fight for their members’ rights should not be construed to mean they are against their governments since it is through such expressions that our members can voice judgment on government action, and ensure that they are justly governed.
•For instance the rights to Collective Bargaining and Strike are clearly embedded in our Kenya Constitution under Article 41 in the Bill of Rights and this did not come easy as COTU (K) had to develop lobbying strategies towards all those involved in the Constitutional making process including the Committee of Experts and parliament to succeed.
•However, such freedoms have not been enjoyed in the region because of the inadequacy of the laws that are supposed to glue effectively to these constitutional rights.
•Equally, under Convention 87 on the freedom of association, workers and employers have the right to establish and subject only to the rules of their trade union organisations as well as enjoy the right to affiliate with international organizations of workers and employers.
•To this end let me thank the ILO for the tremendous support they continue to extend to the labour movement not only in the region but on the entire African continent as a whole and also thank my colleagues from our two continental bodies of OATUU and ITUC-A for always finding time to be with us.
•I thank you and declare this workshop officially opened.