FESTU presents Somali workers’ priorities to UN Resident Coordinator

Following an official request from the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU), the UN Resident Coordinator for Somalia, Mr. George Conway, met with a FESTU delegation led by General Secretary Omar Faruk Osman on Monday, 19 February 2024. The delegation highlighted the main priorities for Somali trade unions and explored ways the Resident Coordinator’s office could support them.

Mr. Osman provided insights about FESTU and its 12 affiliated unions, including their membership, the sectors they organise in, the structure of social dialogue in the country, their representation in Federal Member States, existing donor support and FESTU’s involvement in developing the current UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNDCF 2021-2025).

Mr. Conway, serving as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, acknowledged the positive feedback about FESTU’s cooperation with the ILO, which has supported FESTU and its affiliated unions. He recognised FESTU’s role in the development of the UN sustainable development cooperation framework and mentioned plans for future consultations with stakeholders, including FESTU.

In response to FESTU’s earlier request for a meeting with the UN Country Team in Somalia, Mr. Conway suggested organising such a meeting following the consultations on the UNSDCF, providing FESTU an opportunity to present and engage with various UN agencies. He encouraged direct engagement with his office and designated focal point to discuss issues of mutual interest.

The discussion also covered technical assistance and capacity-building support for workers and their trade union organisations, with Mr. Conway applauding FESTU’s efforts in developing a five-year strategic plan and expressing his willingness to help enable UN agencies, funds and programs to support areas within FESTU’s strategic plan. The meeting also addressed the importance of the UN country team in Somalia supporting the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP), which was signed in June 2023, and launched in Mogadishu on 17 February 2024, marking the first DWCP to be implemented in Somalia.

"Overall, the meeting was constructive, with Mr. Conway being genuinely attentive to our concerns while also being realistic about the potential support his office and the UN family could offer. He emphasised the role of trade unions and expressed his openness to ongoing dialogue. We view this meeting as just the start and look forward to further engagement with him and his team," said Osman.