By Michael Oche
Trade Unions in Africa under the umbrella of ITUC-AFRICA have said that they are committed to the implementation of outcomes from the African Labour Migration Conference (ALMC) and will also hold government to account based on their commitments made at the meeting.
African governments, employers of labour and trade unions which make up the tripartite partners on Labour Migration Governance had, during the conference in Abidjan, committed to the implementation of actionable plans to promote right-based approach to migration governance.
“This conference represents hope for migrant workers. It represents serious hope for migrant workers. In the sense that this is a conference where the tripartite partners have made commitments, deputy general secretary of ITUC-Africa, Joel Odigie told journalists at the sidelines of the conference.
Speaking further, he said: “And we, on our own, we have said we will implement our commitments. And we are sure government, if they make commitments, they will implement. But if they don’t implement, we are there to remind them. And to pressure them to implement their commitments,”
The 3-day conference held between October 18th – 21st and the Trade Union leadership expressed excitement that tripartite partners are in agreement on how to promote the rights of workers
Odigie said, “now that we are talking in tripartite form is also an opportunity that together we can improve the situation. We are happy that we are even talking together and amongst ourselves.”
Joel said before now, the challenge has always been disagreement within the tripartite partners and different regional blocks within the African continent.
He said, “And then also, there is no sincerity of purpose or uniform sincerity of purpose with our integration agenda.
We are still being divided. We are competing amongst ourselves.
“We are not united because we still don’t understand that there is a need for us to donate our sovereignty to a sub-national institution like the African Union. This has weakened our solidarity. Of course, that is the effect of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism talks about individuality, and it weakens cohesion, it weakens commonality. We need to begin to reverse that. If we have enough political will, we will see movement.
He said despite growing momentum on the issue of labour migration within the continent, the injustices against migrant workers persist, prompting the need for urgency of a consensus action plan.
“We need to work together amongst ourselves as a people in moving forward with a better governance scenario,” he insisted
He noted that in recent times there has been progress in ratification of legal instruments for protection of migrant workers.
He said, “We have legislation. We have the laws. We have the frameworks. They might not be complete and well-advanced. But we are not in the position of zero, which is another progress.
Twenty years ago, we were not there at all. Twenty years ago, most of our countries didn’t have migration policy. Now, we are beginning to see development and movement. But implementation is a challenge.
“Why is it so? The problem is that we are not yet effectively focused enough. Our governments are not addressing these issues holistically. The governments have also been largely reactionary.”
He compared the experience of the Philippines, where he said the government has been focused and deliberate on their goals
He said trade unions are serious in engaging on the issue of fair recruitment and to stop the exploitation and the violation of the rights of migrant workers. He, however, noted that only through collaboration will the continent achieve better outcomes.
Furthermore, he said, “First is that we need collaboration among ourselves. Tripartism is the way to go. Inclusion is the way to go. And we will also see that even while we celebrate the progress we have made, this progress has been largely on account of the pressure from the trade unions. So we will continue to put the pressure on our government to do the needful.”