Speech – Remarks By Bro. Francis Atwoli, Ebs, Mbs Chairman Of Eatuc

REMARKS BY BRO. FRANCIS ATWOLI, EBS, MBS CHAIRMAN OF EATUC DURING EATUC/EAEO JOINT REGIONAL FORUM ON 30TH SEPTEMBER, 2014 IN ARUSHA

  • The Chairperson of the East Africa Employers Organisation and Executive Director of Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), Sis. Jacqueline Mugo, OGW,
  • The Secretary General Trade Union Confederation of Tanzania (TUCTA),Bro. Nicholas Mgaya,
  • The Secretary General National Organisation of Trade Unions of Uganda (NOTU), Bro. Peter Werikhe,
  • The Secretary General of Zanzibar Trade Union Confederation (ZATUC), Bro. Mohammed Hamisi,
  • The Secretary General of CESTRA, Bro. Eric Manzi.
  • The President of COSYBU, Bro. Tharcisses Gahungu
  • Colleagues representing Employers and Trade Unions from Tanzania, Uganda, Zanzibar, Rwanda and Burundi
  • The Executive Secretary of East Africa Trade Union Confederation (EATUC), Sis. Caroline Mugalla
  • LO-FTF Council Head of African Department, Bro. Jorgen Assens
  • LO-FTF Council International Advisor, Bro. Philip Nordentoft
  • Coordinators and Consultants Present
  • Brothers and Sisters
  • On behalf of our Regional Trade Union Organisation, the East African Trade Union Confederation (EATUC), allow me to formally welcome you all to this Third Regional Forum meeting and Social Partners’ Conference on Social Dialogue in the context of the East African community.
  • At the onset, let me take this opportunity to recognize the important role and support that continue to be extended towards this project by the LO-FTF Council together with the Danish industries particularly for securing the project funds from DANIDA.
  • As we converge here for this Third Regional Forum. I am glad to learn that there has been tremendous progress made from the recommendations of our First Regional Meeting held on 20th to 21st November, 2013 as well as the technical teams meeting of 24th – 25th April, 2014.
  • Particularly, let me appreciate the commitment that has since been shown towards holding respective national activities including the most recent one on sharing the position paper on removing barriers to the free movement of workers in the region and the recommendation made on the overall issuance and processing of work permits in our respective member countries in the region.
  • Brothers and Sisters, Unemployment remains a major challenge in the East African Community despite the protocol establishing the community’s Common Market having entered into force on 1st July, 2010 following the ratification by all the five member states of EAC.
  • However, enabling workers to move freely and work anywhere within the region remains the critical first step in addressing unemployment problems in the region and beneficial to the extent that skilled labour as a rare factor of production in the region can move freely and partner states can easily obtain skills that are locally scarce from other partner states.
  • Within the same context, the right of residence is considered as a package on the freedom of movement of workers as the Common Market protocol provides that the basics of residence in another state shall be where a citizen of another partner state has been admitted as a worker or self-employed person with a view that the residence permit shall expire when the work permit expires.
  • To facilitate this free movement of persons, the protocol obliges partner states to effect reciprocal opening of border posts and keep the posts opened and manned for 24 hours visualizing partner states to establish in all border posts the necessary infrastructure to execute this requirement.
  • However, the protocol carries with it three major shortcomings namely workers who during the duration of their work permit decides to understate part time training in the host country. Do they also need to have student passes?
  • Secondly, the protocol prohibits students from other partner states from engaging in employment in the host country except internships and industrial attachment which is against the principle of non-discrimination.
  • Thirdly, the protocol did not envision a situation or indeed provided for cushioning in cases where regime changes in a country might result in public policy changes that discriminate against foreign workers on the basis of national policy or security or health might therefore be abused.
  • Brothers and Sisters

  • These challenges should not deter us. Globally the integration of regional economies has added new impetus to the growing mobility of workers across borders and as a region, we shouldn’t be left behind.
  • On the continent, the movement of labour has become an important and enduring phenomena associated with economic growth and development since it eases skills imbalances in the wider labour markets and provide broad cultural and economic benefits to both nations.
  • World over, the importance of labour mobility to development is now reflected in the fact that it has become a part of the agenda for multilateral institutions like trade negotiations within the framework of the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS).
  • In this respect, Social Dialogue remains the most fundamental component towards an integrated social dimension into regional integration grounded in an open and particularly in a process that includes governments, employers and workers all providing diversity of interests with a view to achieving legitimacy among all the social partners through promotion of Collective Bargaining.
  • As a result, parties should build the much needed capacity to lobby respective offices both within and outside governments and disengage the subsequent implementation of any such key decisions that has often been a preserve of the EAC summit which is a political organ without participation of all.
  • I urge all of you to individually and at your own organizational levels commit yourselves in this project a success and give every one of us an opportunity to live in a region where the many hindrances to labour mobility will remain a thing of the past.

I thank you all

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