Decent work, industrialisation and job creation at COSATU’s international school

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has hosted an international school on the theme “Building a progressive workers movement for development Alternatives in Africa: Decent work, industrialisation and Job creation NOW!”

International Department, ACLVB/CGSLB - Belgium

Over a hundred trade union delegates, representatives of civil society and guest speakers met from 12 to 14 September 2016 to discuss decent work. CGSLB-MSI (International Solidarity Movement) partners from Burundi, Burkina Faso and Senegal were among the participants. Discussions focussed on the six principal factors in the fight for decent work:

  • The meaning of decent work and job creation to fight poverty and unemployment and thereby promote sustainable development in Africa
  • Building a BRICS trade union forum as the critical force behind the international trade union movement’s efforts to change the global balance of power
  • The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the African Union’s 2063 Vision and the struggle for industrial development, regional integration and fair migration
  • The role of the African trade union movement in building working class solidarity and unity on the continent
  • Transforming our economic structures to tackle climate change and the ecological crisis and create green jobs in Africa
  • The crises in Brazil, Venezuela and other parts of Latin America and what they mean for working class solidarity and the trade union struggle in the context of the current world economic crisis.

COSATU invited several speakers to lead the debates. They included Joni Musabayana, Director of the ILO regional office for Southern Africa, Joao Antonio Felicio, President of the ITUC, and the South African Minister of Labour.

Image credit: Célestin Nsavyimana (FNTT-SI, Burundi)

The International Labour Organisation emphasised the “Future of work centenary initiative”, focusing particularly on young people and youth unemployment. For the ILO programme to be implemented effectively, good policies in this field are essential, which is what the South African Labour Minister promised to deliver in the framework of tripartite cooperation with the ILO, making decent work a priority.

The MSI partners from Burundi, Burkina Faso and Senegal spoke of the contributions they will make through their trade union action:
Célestin Nsavyimana, FNTT-SI, Burundi : “The trade union organisations of Burundi must be fully engaged in the praiseworthy initiative by COSATU (showing trade union solidarity and engaging in South-South trade union cooperation).”

Elle Hadji Mbengue, CNTS, Senegal: “We have to stand together for the establishment of decent working conditions for all workers, but in particular the most vulnerable”.

At the end of the three days, the unions issued a joint declaration, making the following commitments: to organise the unorganised, in particular by using new recruitment strategies; institutionalise social dialogue, ensure the implementation of ILO Recommendation 204 (transitioning from the informal to the formal economy), run joint programmes with sister African unions, promote the BRICS trade union forum, tax justice, gender equality, green jobs and better collaboration with civil society.

The participating trade unions concluded that it was time, more than ever, for the African trade union movement to speak with one voice in international forums and to place workers’ dignity firmly back on the agenda.