OATUU calls for common African position

Helen Shok Jok, Abuja.

The Organisation of African Trade Union  Unity (OATUU) has urged African leaders  to ensure that the tripartite arrangement to the annual International Labour Conference(ILC) is maintained.

OATUU President Mr Francis Atwoli made the call in  an interview with Voice of Nigeria  in Geneva,  Switzerland, while assessing Africa’s participation  at the just concluded 105th session of the ILC.

Atwoli said  it was important for Africa as a continent to have a common position on issues affecting trade unions before attending the annual conference.

“We come here disjointed and every government with its own agenda, so we do not have a unified agenda for the continent at the ILC.

The issue of I come from Kenya and Kenyan Government has its own agenda, Nigerian Government has its own agenda, Ghana has its own agenda, Benin and so on is not the way we should go.

It is important for us to meet in any African country, either Nairobi, Lagos or anywhere in the continent before we come here to present our  agenda for the ILC, ‘‘he said.

He noted that such meeting should not only be for the International Labour Organisation alone but others like the UN agencies, trading blocs and the World Trade Union Organisation.

Atwoli said the meeting should be an avenue where Africa trade unions would be able to sit down and speak on major issues that would move the continent forward.

According to him, “Because some of the things some of us came here to ask for ranges from computers, monetary assistance, among others and the real issue is that we do not need them.

We need things that can lift up the African continent and the African people and not what would portray poverty in us.”   

He noted that the 2016 ILC which was chaired by the South African  Minister of Labour     would have been better if as a continent, Africa came with a common agenda.

He added that, rather, Africa arrived Europe unprepared to present a common demand unlike other continents.

“It is time for the African Union and the  political  leaders to ensure that the tripartite arrangement that existed before which includes ministers of Labour, Social Affairs, employer and  workers is revived.

It is only through the tripartite arrangement that  Africa can strategise before attending such International Conference outside the continent.

We should be meeting on the continent during the month of April as we use to do to prepare ourselves to know what we want to present when coming to the ILO.

Otherwise, here we are being seen as messengers and things are being pushed on us because we are not prepared.”

He said requests for the continent should range from ILO’s  technical assistance, training the  trainers, training of Labour inspectors and social security problems, among others.