Chad: Trade unions stress own priorities at government workshop on inclusion of SDGs in national development plan

Organised by the Ministry of Economy and Development Planning with the technical and financial support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP Chad), the workshop was aimed at contextualizing and prioritising the SDG targets to be taken on board in the revision of the five-year national development plan.

More than 90 participants attended the workshop. They came from N’Djamena and the country’s 23 provinces and included representatives from trade unions, the government, the National Assembly (including members of the majority party and opposition), the private sector, the media, civil society (youth, women, academics...) and United Nations agencies. The coordinators of national programmes linked to the SDGs (e.g. coordination of universal health coverage) were also present. The trade union representative was Demba Karyom from the Union des Syndicats du Tchad.

During her contribution, Demba stressed the importance of integrating the SDG targets prioritised by trade unions (1-poverty, 5-gender equality, 8-decent work and economic growth, 10-reduced inequalities, 13-climate action and 16-peace, justice and strong institutions) into the national development plan. She also spoke of the need to include trade unions in regional SDG coordination structures and to increase the involvement of local and regional trade unions in the process of reviewing and revising local development plans, to better integrate the targets identified by the workers.

Finally, Demba drew attention to the importance of limiting the risks of privatising the SDGs, which would result from the use of mixed financing mechanisms. She also stressed the need to place particular emphasis on the campaigns to be conducted to ensure that stakeholders take ownership of the SDGs, understand their relevance and the impact they have on everyday life.
“For me, the SDGs are a fundamental tool for implementing social protection to promote sustainable development,” she concluded.

Brief overview of the social situation in Chad

Decent work in Chad is still a feat to be achieved. The major challenges include stable incomes, and secure and sustainable jobs to provide better living and working conditions.

The public policies on employment security and social protection are not in sync with the current world of work. The people most affected (women and young people) are faced with huge difficulties in meeting their housing, nutritional, education and health needs.

For the past six months, workers have been engaged in a battle with the government, which is insisting that development can only be achieved through the austerity measures it is imposing on them, as if the only way to tackle the economic crisis is by cutting workers’ wages.

The trade union centres have called for a nationwide work stoppage bringing public services to a halt. Trade unions are keeping up this pressure to urge the government to engage in a frank and responsible dialogue, but also to express their outrage at the austerity measures. The workers are adamant. They will not pay for the state’s bad governance.

“For a country like Chad, crippled by debt and the structural adjustment programmes recommended by international financial institutions, these austerity measures should be directed more towards stimulating economic growth in key sectors than at cutting public servants’ wages, which only increases the level of poverty and seriously impacts the health and education of our people,” said Demba, who concludes, “Working in Chad means surviving against all odds, battling with poor housing, nutrition and health conditions on a daily basis and, above all, poverty wages. This is a serious infringement of our most basic rights.”