Regional Meeting ITUC Africa - TUDCN: Unionism in Action in Africa to rescue the SDGs

Union leaders from Africa met online for two days (12-13 April) with representatives of UN bodies in the region to address the state of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the continent and discuss union priorities for the 2024 Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD).

The event provided a platform for trade unions to demonstrate the central role they play as actors of development and remind UN representatives present at the event that sustainable development cannot progress or be sustainable in the long-term if workers are not involved in the decision-making of development policies. In addition, the meeting enabled trade unions to strategise on the demands that they will present at the ARFSD.

ITUC Africa stressed the importance for UN bodies present at national and regional level in the continent to establish structured and effective mechanisms that ensure the active and productive participation of union organisations in UN-led sustainable development processes to ensure that the labour perspective is taken on board, particularly workers’ demands for decent work, respect for rights, fair wages, social protection, equality, and inclusion.

The exchange between UN representatives and union leaders was enriched by first-hand testimonies of the contributions to the SDGs that unions are making in several countries. From Senegal, participants learned of the anti-poverty work of UNSAS with women in the informal economy and the particular multifaceted approach they use by addressing both the state of the workplace of these workers, their access to health and social protection, and their access to capacity building. They also learned about the advocacy for adequate just transition plans in the agriculture, energy and transport sectors that COSATU is driving in South Africa. From Somalia, FESTU talked about their efforts to convince the government to act against the climate of impunity surrounding the repeated attacks against journalists in the country. From Namibia, participants learned about the experience that TUCNA garnered through its participation in the TUDCN and how this led to fruitful engagements in UN-led and Gov-led development processes.

Concluding the meeting, ITUC Africa deputy general secretary Anselme Amoussou appreciated the necessity of trade unions to continue strengthening their skills on the SDGs and the different mechanisms through which they can effectively engage and influence development policies at all levels.