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PRESS STATEMENT FROM THE SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA REGIONAL CONFERENCE OF INDUSTRIAL GLOBAL UNION
“WE DEMAND ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
FOR AFRICA AND THE WHOLE WORLD”
Having met at Saint George Hotel in Pretoria from 14 to 16 October 2014, some 150 trade union leaders from 28 African countries of the 50-million-strong global union IndustriALL have discussed a series of issues and challenges which trade unions face throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
Peace and Stability The Conference underlined the importance of peace and stability in the region, and expressed their horror about the case in Nigeria where 200 girls were abducted. The delegates raised their concern over the ongoing civil war in the Central African Republic and called on all African governments to ensure the existence of peace and stability in the region.
Ebola The Ebola disaster was one of the agenda items at the Conference as it is killing thousands of people in the region, particularly in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea. The Conference participants stressed their firm solidarity with people affected by this catastrophe, and called on all governments and intergovernmental organizations, including the ILO and the WHO, to take swift measures to fight against Ebola and to prevent further deaths.
Manufacturing The Conference stressed the importance of manufacturing as an engine in national economies. Having re-affirmed earlier commitments by IndustriALL affiliates to prioritize industrial development, the Conference decided to act in taking up the issue with their national centres; developing union capacity, including sharing experiences between unions in the region; influencing governments; building trade union strength and capacity to demand comprehensive and strategic industrial policies, including educating members and raising public awareness to campaign for policies that benefit working people; developing joint policies towards regional intergovernmental bodies such as SADC, ECOWAS, EAC, CEMAC and the African Union; and mobilizing regionally on Africa Industrialization Day on 20 November.
Precarious Work and Labour Brokers The Conference reiterated its concerns and anger against rampant precarious work and labour brokers, as multinational companies across the region conduct employment strategies which also involves retrenching workers, and bringing them back as precarious workers. The African affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union continue to fight against this phenomenon by mobilizing, organizing and defending workers’ rights to ensure sustainable employment.
Living Wage The delegates expressed their concerns over the fact that workers are still earning low salaries, even below poverty levels, in all the sectors within IndustriALL’s jurisdiction. The Conference resolved that Africa and the world needs an immediate pay rise. For this, the African labor unions continue to struggle for living wages for workers in the region.
Women Women’s involvement and participation in trade union activities at all levels were widely discussed through a particular pre-conference event. Maternity protection and violence against women and children were particular discussion items. The Conference expressed its outrage at the fact that since the adoption of the ILO Convention 183 on maternity protection fourteen years ago, only three African countries have ratified it. IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliates in the region will intensify their efforts towards ratification and implementation of this ILO convention. The Sub-Saharan African Women's Conference called for a 40% quota for women on the way to gender parity.
Health and Safety Furthermore, the Conference sadly noted that there are many fatalities in workplaces across the region, and is extremely concerned that companies in the region are not adhering to health and safety standards, and as a result workers are losing their lives. The Conference affirmed the commitment of the affiliates to the fight for safer and healthier workplaces, urging governments and companies to put people first, not profits.
Swaziland The Conference strongly condemned the Government of Swaziland for dissolving the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) and the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA). The Conference urged the Government to revoke this decision, and to start engaging in a genuine dialogue with unions about legislative reforms that will ensure that workers’ rights are respected in line with Swaziland’s international obligations without any further delay.
The delegates finalized the Conference by demanding economic and social justice for Africa and the whole world.
IndustriALL Global Union represents 50 million workers in 141 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors and is a force in global solidarity taking up the fight for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world.
For more information, please contact: Jyrki Raina, General Secretary, IndustriALL Global Union Mobile: +41 (0)79 793 88 96 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com