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MAY DAY: ITUC-Africa Commends Workers for Contributions Towards Productivity

The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) speaks on behalf of over 18 million registered members across 52 African countries

The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) has paid glowing tribute to workers who lost their lives in the past due to work pressures and unhealthy conditions.

“Our condolences go out to their families who have lost their breadwinners, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, companions, and confidants. May their souls rest in eternal peace”, the Organisation said.

In a statement signed by its General Secretary, Akhator Joel Odigie to African workers and workers worldwide on May Day, the Organisation said the theme for this year’s International Workers’ Day, “A Renewed Call for Jobs, Peace, and Democracy for Shared Prosperity” encapsulates the urgent demands and aspirations of the African workforce.

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“Therefore, we must reiterate the voices and concerns of our members across the continent and draw the attention of critical stakeholders to pragmatic solutions to the challenges we face”, the statement said.

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The ITUC-Africa said recent reports from the World Bank and the African Development Bank highlight the challenges that Africa’s labour landscape faces.

“Informal employment remains pervasive, with over 70% of the Sub-Saharan African workforce engaged in the informal sector. Profound and persistent informality perpetuates economic instability and deprives workers of social protection and decent working conditions”, it added.

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According to the Organisation inadequate job creation exacerbates the plight of Africa’s youth, who face disproportionately high levels of unemployment and underemployment and noted that the continent’s growing youth population, projected to double by 2045, demands immediate attention to avoid exacerbating poverty and social inequalities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, particularly for women and youth, who have borne the brunt of joblessness, job losses, and reduced working hours. The slow recovery threatens to prolong their economic hardship and hinder their full participation in the labour market”, it said.

It stated that the world is facing a growing number of challenges that threaten the welfare, safety, and rights of workers.

To foster inclusive growth, reduce poverty, and create a brighter future for all workers and people on the continent the Organisation presented five demands and alternatives to African governments for their urgent and genuine consideration:

  1. Invest in education, skills training, and social protection to enhance employability and ensure a skilled workforce. We urge social protection measures and programs that are accessible, broad in coverage, and available to all categories of workers to safeguard and improve their welfare and well-being. Collaborative efforts to rein in Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and recourse to responsible borrowing and transparent debt management can improve the financing of education and social protection provisions.
  2. Develop and implement imaginative policies and programs that address gender disparities in the labor market and improve the governance of the labor market to ensure equal opportunities for women.
  3. Recommit to the ideals of responsible governance and combat corruption through the development and enforcement of the practice of the rule of law underpinned by genuine prosecution and sanction of offenders to dissuade impunity.
  4. Engineer a people-centered security architecture based on investment in people and communities and providing early-warning conflict detection, containment management, and deterrence mechanisms to ensure peace and security and safeguard workers’ rights and safety.
  5. Recommit to the genuine implementation of the provisions of national constitutions, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and International Labor Organization conventions.
  6. Embrace and commit to establishing, functioning, and utilising inclusive social dialogue mechanisms and processes to resolve industrial disputes and further incubate pragmatic nation-building initiatives; and,
  7. Ratify the Africa Union (AU) protocol on the Free Movement of the People to protect the rights of migrant workers and facilitate their freedom of movement within Africa. This will contribute to the effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

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