Trade unions at the Africa-EU Intercontinental CSO Forum in Tunis

A trade union delegation attended the 3rd Africa-EU Intercontinental CSO Forum in Tunis, on 11-13 July 2017. This Forum was organised in the framework of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES), and supported by the African Union’s Citizens and Diaspora Directorate (AU/CIDO) and the European Union (EU). The final declaration reflects many trade union priorities to advance decent work and social dialogue in the JAES.

The Forum’s discussions was structured around five thematic clusters: conflict prevention, peacebuilding and refugees; human development; sustainable future for our planet; decent work, universal social protection and sustainable socio-economic development; and democratic governance and civic participation. It brought together civil society organizations from both continents to discuss future priorities in light of external challenges and opportunities at global and regional levels and make specific recommendations to deliver to Heads of State and Government, and to African and European institutions ahead of the upcoming 5th Africa-EU Summit, in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) on 28 and 29 November 2017.

The trade union delegation was formed by Karin Debroey (ACV/CSC Belgium), Elodie Aïssi (CFDT France), Alejandra Ortega Fuentes (CC.OO. Spain), Salvatore Marra (CGIL Italy), Alex Nkosi (ITUC Africa) and Joan Lanfranco (ITUC-TUDCN).

The CSO Forum plenaries and working sessions’ discussions were summarized in a final declaration [EnglishFrançaisEspañol]. This declaration reflects many trade union priorities, notably:

  • Promote the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Decent Work Agenda at the core of the JAES, as recognised by ILO core labour standards and conventions and other international frameworks, in coordination and engagement with civil society, as part of an enabling environment allowing freedom of association and collective bargaining.
  • Involve civil society in the implementation and monitoring of the EU External Investment Plan (EIP), in blending and in public-private partnerships, which should follow national development priorities and not lead to privatisation of essential public services. ODA should continue to act for sustainable development and poverty reduction and not become a subsidy to businesses.
  • Prioritise domestic resource mobilisation by strengthening national tax systems, by tackling tax evasion, illicit financial flows and corruption, by ensuring that international and local private sector actors pay their fair share of taxes and by cancelling odious debts.
  • Foster decent work creation and employability through social economy initiatives, such as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and cooperatives, upskilling, entrepreneurship, life-long learning, universal education, inclusive vocational training, science technology and innovation, and the transition from an informal to a formal economy.
  • Prioritise the specific needs of youth, including decent employment opportunities, tackling the brain drain and child labour; the needs of women, including combating discrimination; as well as access to and adaptation of the labour market for persons with disabilities and generally all persons facing discrimination in accessing the labour market.
  • Enact all gender equality commitments, in particular to formalise women’s paid and unpaid work, close the gender pay gap, and implement living wages and measures to promote equal access to social protection to ensure that the rights of women, including maternity protection, are upheld.
  • Support the provision of universal, affordable and inclusive access to social protection systems and floors, including community-based basic healthcare and health insurance, and sexual and reproductive healthcare, clean water and sanitation and universal access to renewable and affordable energy.
  • Develop mandatory frameworks, such as the UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights, to ensure the accountability of transnational companies to respect labour and trade union rights, human rights and environmental standards all along global supply chains.
  • Promote regional integration strategies in Europe and Africa and create a conducive environment for economic and structural transformation that fosters sustainable commodity-based industrialisation in Africa.
  • Defend, support and respect the autonomy and role of social partners (trade unions and employers’ organisations) by ensuring their involvement in the design and implementation of relevant reforms and policies, also by boosting the effectiveness of social dialogue at all relevant levels, which is conducive to collective bargaining.
  • Prioritise policies and investments in public services such as health, education and social protection for all and place these at the heart of the Africa-EU Partnership.
  • Invest in public services and regulate competition in the private sector in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs SDGs The Sustainable Development Goals were one of the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference. The members States launched a new set of future international development goals, which will build upon the Millennium Development Goals and converge with the post-2015 development agenda. ).
  • Promote sustainable economic models, including ruralisation (invigoration of rural communities), through awareness raising, global education, knowledge-sharing and training on localisation of economies, green jobs and sustainable local agriculture, as well as other emerging sectors such as the care, social and solidarity economy.
  • Harness social participation in international trade agreements through establishing joint consultative committees, parliamentary oversight, dedicated sustainable development chapters and joint monitoring mechanisms, in line with ILO principles, SDG 10 and the African Union 2063 Agenda.

Click here for more information about the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and the Tunis CSO Forum.

Watch an Euronews report featuring TUDCN’s Joan Lanfranco here.