ATUDN/TUDCN regional meeting: African unions aim at strengthening their engagement in SDG processes

Over fifty trade union representatives and ILO ACTRAV staff from across Africa attended the African Trade Union Development Network regional webinar on 9 February 2022. Along with representatives of the African Union and the UN ECA, ILO and union leaders discussed trade unions’ priorities and engagement in SDG national and regional processes.

The webinar provided an occasion for affiliates in Africa to catch up on SDG processes in the region and exchange information and viewpoints with key stakeholders on how to achieve a sustainable and human-centred recovery in line with the SDGs.

ITUC Africa general secretary, Kwasi Abu Amankwah, opened the session with a strong statement about the SDGs’ enabling power for trade unions to advance key worker demands on sustainable development models. ITUC deputy general-secretary, Mamadou Diallo, paid particular attention to the fact that key union messages are reflected in the UN Secretary-General’s recent reports “Our Common Agenda” and “Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection”.

Giulia Massobrio of the TUDCN secretariat presented the state of SDG processes and the tools that unions’ have at hand to engage in them. Her intervention was complemented by the representative of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UN ECA), Guy Nicolas Nahimana. He talked about the upcoming African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development and the necessity for unions to engage to ensure their positions be reflected in the outcome document that will contribute to the discussion at the High-Level Political Forum in July 2022.

During the session on experience sharing, FESTU Somalia talked about its engagement in UN-led and national development processes in the country. Botswana’s BFTU denounced that the government is not including unions in the discussions at all. Speaking on behalf of all ITUC affiliates in Senegal, Anne Cécile Coly (UNSAS), highlighted the successful support that the Bureau for Workers Activities (ACTRAV) is providing unions to establish an action plan and improve their engagement with the government.

ACTRAV Director Maria-Helena André underlined that sustainable development can only be achieved if unions are onboard and stressed that, in line with SDG16, governments must ensure that unions are involved, informed, and have access to funding and resources. Also from the ILO, Alexio Musindo reminded of the necessity for governments and employers to support the implementation of the action points of the 2019 Abidjan Declaration. And Mr. Houssein Guedi (African Union) mentioned that a recent forum on the impact of the pandemic on labour and social affairs resulted in a regional action plan for stimulating employment and promoting workers’ rights and access to social protection and health.

Paola Simonetti (ITUC) and Eric Manzi (ITUC Africa) concluded the webinar by congratulating all affiliates and ACTRAV for their continued engagement in development processes. Simonetti praised the engagement of affiliates in the TUDCN processes such as the #timefor8 campaign (which will be relaunched this year at the HLPF) and the country reports on SDG implementation at the national level. This engagement provides strong evidence-based support to the global labour movement’s policy messages.