The African Regional Organization of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) held from 23 to 25 September 2013 in Accra, Ghana, a forum on trade union priorities in the post 2015 development process.
This forum who knows the participation of almost sixty delegates from various African countries. For the participants, it was also the opportunity to take inventory of the African situation with regard to the MDGs. It was focused on the theme : “ Development and African industrialization”.
The globalised economy and its consequences have become the biggest challenge for the African working class and workers’ organisations. This challenge is at the heart of the current debate on the post-2015 development process in Africa and, especially, the evolution of the world of work in Africa.
Actually, the panacea proposed to promote economic growth, development and poverty reduction over the past two decades has been Africa’s integration into the global economy. This calls for opening up and orienting national economies towards international markets and the removal of all customs tariffs and import quotas, the deregulation of national economies and the repeal of market laws and regulations to pave the way for free market. Financial and monetary policies conducive to fluctuating interest rates as well as the freedom to invest and repatriate capital and monetary/credit liberalization with the view of subordinating development and production to financial capital are also called for. The flexibilisation of labour laws in a way that enables the market to operate without interference, international competitiveness and the closure of a maximum number of state-owned companies are some of the main measures associated with this integration process. Salary reduction and the privatization of state-owned companies are also part of this process.
These measures were supposed to put in place a framework that would enable African companies to bring down barriers to free trade.
Human Development Index shows that life expectancy is still abysmally low in spite of improved global medicine and health technology. Food and nutrition necessary for physical and mental development are also increasingly going out of the reach and affordability of working families and the poor as a result of shortage of local food production and high prices for imported essential commodities like maize, sugar, rice, vegetables and cooking oil. Similarly, provision of portable drinking water and access to health care, education and other social services are in dire need. For instance, whilst rural school children enrolment has improved under the Millennium Development Goals initiatives, access for the girl child has remained poor just as the class absenteeism remain high because these children are still considered as extra family labour in households’ economic activities.
The idea, from ITUC-Africa Congress as contained in its final resolutions is to consciously engage governance structures at the continental, regional and national levels on the issues of development and industrialisation. In essence, what is or will be the role of the African Union movement and national governments on the drive to develop and industrialize Africa? How will and should African trade union organisations pursue these engagements within these continental, regional and national structures, say on the need to address unemployment and poverty eradication follow-up within the post-2005 Ouagadougou summit?
Therefore, this seminar intends to prepare and equip African trade unions to effectively participate in the discussions and national consultations on development policies in their respective countries within the framework of post-2015 development prospects.
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