0 | 5
Three decades of implementation of the Structural Adjustments Programmes failed to either bring structural changes to African economies
or address key structural constraints. The SAPs have rather deepened the primary commodity export-dependence that Africa inherited
from colonialism and increased vulnerabilities to volatile world primary commodities prices. Moreover, the open trade, investment and
financial regimes and policies have had little impact on wealth creation and led to substantial accumulation of wealth in the hands of the
few outside the continent. Trade liberalization has exposed indigenous industries to unfair competition from abroad leading to deindustrialization
and loss of high quality manufacturing sector jobs and degradation of domestic productive capacity. Together with extensive
retrenchment of public sector workers, this has increased the rate of informalization and joblessness.
ITUC-Africa acknowledges that Climate Change is one of the most pressing issues confronting society today. Whilst all continents will be
affected by this phenomenon, developing countries are likely to be the hardest hit and people living in poverty the most affected.
The Climate Change Strategy Paper for Trade Unions in Africa emphasizes that human activities, particularly the emissions of carbon
dioxide, are the dominant cause of global warming, bringing about climate change. Other studies underline the fact that climate change
poses a moderate threat to today’s development and a severe threat to future sustainable development .
The youth constitutes the greater percentage of the African population and are often the most severely affected by unemployment, an inadequate allocation of government resources for education and training, and the exploitation and discrimination in workplace, resulting in many of them the alienation of the society in which they live in.
The relatively low level of union membership among young workers means they are often deprived of the protection, information and training provided by unions. For this, ITUC-Africa has set as its objective ‘Young workers to become an integral part of trade unions’ and have developed activities to help achieve this objective…
Africa is experiencing a degradation of the fundamentals of unionism which hampers development and leads to a decline in the trade union movement.
In view of this situation it is imperative for trade union organizations to fully assume their role as the only large movement not only capable of taking into account the real interest of workers, but also as actors in economic and social development, hence a force for change.
The majority of African’s population remain vulnerable and excluded from social protection benefits which can guarantee better living and
working conditions. The extent of the social protection deficit in Africa, especially with respect to health coverage, income protection and
unemployment benefits is huge and results in massive poverty. Only 3 out of 54 African countries have ratified Convention 102 on social
protection; 4 have ratified Convention 183 on maternity protection; and 2 have ratified Convention 189 on domestic workers.
“Our values are : Respect, Diversity, Solidarity and Partnership”
Migration remains and will continue to be a historic human phenomenon that can neither be stopped nor simply wished away. Similarly, over the past two decades, migration has become an issue of global concern (Murrugarra et al. 2011). Though migration is viewed in some quarters as a crisis, conceivably the recognition of the potential contribution of migration and migrants to socio-economic development is a major reason for the importance being attached to migration by increasing number of governments in developing countries (Ajaero and Onokala 2013), such as those in Africa. Indeed, the global labour market is characterized by labour migration and workplaces today are composed of various nationalities. The inclusion of migration in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) is even a global recognition of the potential of migration to promote socio-economic development if it is well managed.
In recent times, governments and other stakeholders, including trade unions, have been under intense pressure to deliver in the face of large movements of people at a scale not seen since the Second World War. In particular, since 2008, many nations have been battered, directly or indirectly, by a series of crises including the financial crises and the refugee and migrant crisis (as some people may prefer to describe it). In fact, the migration phenomenon, in its broader sense, and its consequences are perhaps the key defining characteristics of the contemporary global society. It is both a source of great opportunity in terms of economic gains and cross cultural fertilization as well as being a source of conflict and populist political debate. Clearly, the recent processes and initiatives to adopt the Global Compact on Migration (GCM) as driven by the United Nations as one of the responses to the migration phenomenon is a recognition of the importance of migration.
The link between trade unions and migrant labour is relatively faint, even though millions of migrants now form part of the global community of workers. In other words, in some parts of the world, migrant workers are not seen as members of the traditional trade union constituency. Especially in Africa, migration is not yet a “prioritized and engaging” trade union issue, even though unions have always talked of organizing the unorganized and protecting the vulnerable. Migrants face different challenges on a daily basis within and across Africa, while trade unions in particular have not risen up to the challenge. If for nothing at all, but on the basis of any serious renewal, unions must have a strategy to reconnect with atypical labour market constituents, especially the migrant workforce.
One of the biggest concerns, for organizations working in the migration sector or industry is how to foster the integration of migrants and refugees, and overcome the social exclusion and abuse of their human rights. It is on the basis of this that, trades unions in Africa as a key stakeholder in global migration governance, and with strive for the attainment of equity and justice as their goals, core values, practices and principles sought to humanize the migration economy through collective and coordinated approach through the formation of the African Trade Unions Migration Network (ATUMNET) to work towards the improvement of migrants and refugees rights and access to decent work.
ATUMNET was formally formed and launched in August, 2016 after a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, under the auspices of the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa). An earlier meeting in June 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya discussed the need for such a continent-wide platform that will help to bring cohesion, order and efficiency to trade union interventions on migration and labour migration issues with the aim of contributing to the advance of the rights of migrants and that of their families, as well as delivering development gains for the economies involved in migration at all the various stages and chains (sending, transit and receiving/host economies. A team of five persons from the 2015 Nairobi meeting were tasked to develop processes for a structure.
ATUMNET is a platform for all national trade union organizations in the 52 African countries where ITUC-Africa currently has affiliates, created to design and deploy African trade union responses to the issues of migration and labour migration, as well as link it to the actualisation, enjoyment, defence, protection and promotion of the rights of migrants and refugees as well as contribute to enhancing the development benefits of migration.
2. Vision, Mission and Aims
The vision of ATUMNET is to effectively contribute to the global governance of migration so that all workers, especially migrants and refugees enjoy their human and workers’ rights necessary for the fulfillment of their potentials and wellbeing across gender, nationalities, sending, and transit and host economies.
The mission is to mobilize all trade union resources to promote the inclusion and protection of migrants’ rights in their lawful pursuit for decent work in the global economy.
Our immediate aims are to:
• Deepen and increase African trade unions’ engagement on migration and labour migration issues with the view to improve the spaces and opportunities for migrants and members of their families to enjoy their human and workers’ rights;
• Action-driven African trade union platform that initiates hands-on initiatives for the advancement of migration that works for all.
• Help to properly organise the voices and actions of African trade unions on migration and labour migration to make them more cohesive, orderly, structured and efficient.
• To be an organised platform that would be able to liaise and partner the African Union and other regional and international institutions on migration and development issues as they affect migrants from and in Africa.
• Form national structures and alliances to push for common platform or landscape of non-state stakeholders for dialogue on migration at national level. In the long run these should develop into an effective structure working at the regional and global levels working to deepen the preservation, protection and promotion of migrants as well as further the contributions to development.
Our core activities or approach to working include:
• Assist in building capacity of trade union activists and leaders to engage in migration policy debates, formulation, implementation and monitoring
• Support local, national and regional organizations’ working towards the empowerment of [African] migrants and refugees for the promotion and realization of their rights.
• Meet regularly to dialogue and debate on contemporary migration issues
• Support all unions towards organizing of migrants into trade union structures for effective representation, empowerment-participation and integration
• Develop partnerships with other organizations to support our advocacy campaigns, education and public policy initiatives in the area of migration
• Sensitization of migrants and the public to create more awareness on issues of migration so as to reduce and ultimately eliminate misconceptions, mistrust, ignorance, exploitation and abuses.
• Offer a set of policy and advocacy priorities based on the practical realities e.g. ratification of relevant instruments
• Do research where necessary to offer evidenced based responses to migration discourses, governance and solutions.
ATUMNET is open to all affiliates of the ITUC-Africa. In essence, the ITUC-Africa’s cherished principles of independence, democracy and freedoms as well as commitment to real workers’ struggles are the underpinning values of the network.
Sub-regional trade union organisations such as Organisation of Trade Unions of West Africa (OTUWA); East Africa Trade Union Confederation (EATUC); and, Southern Africa Trade Union Coordinating Council (SATUCC) are also welcomed members of the network.
It consciously and enthusiastically welcomes and allows for Global Union Federations (GUFs) to be members through their African Offices and representatives. Africa based Migrants unions are also encouraged and welcomed into the network.
Where necessary and expedient, the network shall allow and accord interested groups with shared values and aspirations “Observer Status”, who can attend her activities and contribute to her processes and decisions.
5. Management/Coordination Structure
For ease of management and communication, the working languages of the network shall be English and French for now.
The ITUC-Africa oversees the activities of the network.
Nevertheless, for the purposes of deepening ownership, engineering initiative and spurring effective participation, ATUMNET shall be coordinated by selected “Lead Persons” agreed to by members. At least two persons (chosen along lingua lines as well as other considerations) shall serve as the Lead Persons for the coordination. It is envisaged that the Lead Persons shall have organizational, communication and leadership skills. Capacity building opportunities shall be offered to help improve and strengthen these skills.
The Lead Persons shall help to coordinate communication; information gathering and sharing; follow-up on campaign; and assisting members on sundry areas of solicited assistances as much as practicable and possible.
The Lead Persons’ positions shall be rotational on an annual basis so as to provide opportunity through taking of these positions to members of the network to build leadership and technical skills and confidence.
Affiliates in the countries where the ITUC-Africa is present are represented by a “National Focal Person” per country. In the cases where there are more than one affiliates of the ITUC-Africa in a country, the affiliates are encouraged to consult and nominate one National Focal Person to the ATUMNET. The creation and functioning of national migration network led by the national focal person on ATUMNET is part of the management structure envisaged to deepen trade unions and their members’ participation and activism on migration issues. In essence, national trade union migration networks will be established with the conscious involvement of national NGOs and CSOs.
The importance of a national migration network cannot be overemphasized given the fluid and rapid pace of urbanization in Africa and globally coupled with the fact that the national site is for us the “the main terrain of struggles”. Thus, trade unions must place primacy on this site to be primed and effective at engaging with national and local agencies that shape migration policies, programmes and practices.
It is welcomed if similar structure is replicated at the sub-regional level so as to interface with the different and relevant agencies dealing directly and indirectly with migration issues.
Furthermore, given that globalisation accentuates migration with implications for sending, transit and host communities and economies, ATUMNET shall consciously and enthusiastically seek collaboration with similar structures and platforms from other continents with the view to strengthen working class solidarity, voices and actions aimed at achieving rights based migration governance.
The network shall be convened at least once a year. The meeting shall be facilitated by the ITUC-Africa with consultations and inputs from members of the network.
The rise and seemingly endless sectarian conflicts, as well as the new and shocking phenomenon of extremism on the continent are posing
serious challenges for the security of people and their properties. The growing insecurity, fragile peace and apparently weak stability
situation in the worst hit countries largely result from the armed and violent conflicts. In most cases, ethnic, religious, communal sentiments,
as well as the preservation of influence and dominance have been displayed in these needless and avoidable conflicts aimed at securing
power and control for supposedly dominant and militarily strong parties. They are leading to the erosion of opportunities for the actualisation
of individual and communal potentials.