May Day Commemoration: ITUC-Africa Calls for Action on Jobs, Peace and Democracy

Keywords : Newsletters Human and trade union rights Organising And Workers Empowerment - Trade Union Unity Youth Work - Organising And Workers Empowerment

May 1st, an emblematic date celebrated around the world, took on special significance for ITUC-Africa this year. Under the theme "A renewed call for jobs, peace and democracy for shared prosperity", the organization placed the heart of its demands at the center of this commemoration.

In a world where informal employment remains predominant, affecting over 70% of workers in sub-Saharan Africa, ITUC-Africa stressed the crucial importance of guaranteeing decent working conditions and social protection for all workers. With a particular focus on Africa’s youth, faced with alarming rates of unemployment and underemployment, the call for investment in education and training resonates as an imperative necessity to ensure a skilled and competent workforce.

But this year’s commemoration was not just about economic challenges. ITUC-Africa also highlighted the persistent threats to peace and democracy in Africa, ranging from violent conflict to unconstitutional changes of government and endemic corruption. These evils, ITUC-Africa stresses, not only undermine political and social stability, but also compromise workers’ rights and security, exposing them to exploitation and violence. "The proliferation of civil wars and violent conflicts perpetrated by criminal and extremist groups, unconstitutional changes of government, the emergence of a kleptomaniac political class and elite that hold the state hostage, paranoia at the head of the state, the weakness or absence of the rule of law and instances of bad governance constitute major threats to the well-being, security and rights of working women and men." Said ITUC-Africa General Secretary Comrade Akhator Joel Odigie.

In the face of these challenges, ITUC-Africa has presented a set of urgent demands and concrete alternatives to African governments. These include :

1. Invest in education, training and social protection to improve employability and guarantee a skilled workforce.

2. Develop and implement innovative policies and programs to close the gender gap in the labor market and improve labor market governance to ensure the promotion of equal opportunities for women.

3. Renew our commitment to promoting the ideals of good governance and fighting corruption by establishing and enforcing the rule of law, bringing perpetrators to justice and imposing effective sanctions to prevent impunity.

4. Develop a human security architecture based on investment in services to people and communities, with mechanisms for early warning, detection, prevention, management and deterrence of conflict, in order to guarantee peace and security and protect the rights and safety of workers.

5. Renew our commitment to the effective implementation of the provisions of national constitutions, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to guarantee civil liberties, including the rights to freedom of association, collective bargaining, expression, freedom of assembly and safe working conditions.

6. Accept and commit to establishing, operating and using inclusive social dialogue mechanisms and processes
to resolve labor disputes and further develop pragmatic nation-building initiatives.

7. Ratify the African Union (AU) Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons to protect the rights of migrant workers and facilitate their movement within Africa. This will contribute to the effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

In putting forward these demands, ITUC-Africa called on African governments to take immediate and consistent action to guarantee a better future for all the continent’s workers and people. For, as ITUC-Africa General Secretary Comrade Akhator Joel Odigie points out, "without political, social and economic stability and respect for human rights, workers become vulnerable to exploitation and violence".

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