African Workers and the Challenges of the AfCFTA and Migration

Keywords : Newsletters Human and trade union rights Structural Transformation For Africa’s Development Migration

This year, the 13th edition of the ITUC-Africa Annual Trade Union New Year School took place from 21 to 24 February 2023 in Lomé. This major gathering of the African trade union movement was attended by more than sixty participants drawn from ITUC-Africa’s affiliates, including both women’s and youth representatives.

"The 13th edition under the theme AfCFTA and Migration in Africa: Issues and Challenges for Workers captures the new development narratives on the continent and the need for greater involvement of the trade union movement in the formulation of alternative proposals that would help bring about the positive change," said ITUC-Africa General Secretary, Comrade Kwasi Adu-Amankwah in his opening remarks.
" Now that the AfCFTA has become a reality for the African people and the world, it is necessary to take stock of the involvement of the [relevant] social actors in the various related processes, particularly trade unions ," he added.

The ability to find an decent, well-paid employment is one of the main challenges faced by workers in Africa. If the AfCFTA has the potential to stimulate economic growth, it could also create jobs, but this will depend on which sectors benefit most from trade. So, workers need to adapt to a rapidly changing labour market and acquire the skills that are required for future employment opportunities.

If the AfCFTA can lead to greater mobility of workers, it could also provide new opportunities for people who are looking for employment or who want to advance their careers. However, this could also create frictions in host countries, particularly in sectors where local workers are already facing employment challenges.
The discussions at this 13th edition of the annual trade union new year school raised two important issues, namely the need for capacity building of trade union actors on the AfCFTA, and how these issues relate to development of the continent.

The other issue is related to the mobilisation and engagement of the relevant trade union actors at national, sub-regional and continental levels, especially in the social dialogue spaces that will be set up to discuss the implementation of the AfCFTA on the one hand and their implications for labour migration on the other.

The group discussions made it possible to come up with strategies for trade union action on the AfCFTA and migration for the development of Africa in the short, medium and long term.

As from 2011, ITUC-Africa has developed a tradition of organising an annual trade union leadership training programme in the first quarter of each year, referred to as the ’Trade Union New Year School’. This programme seeks to engage in debate and reflection on contemporary social, economic and political issues affecting Africa, and has so far covered a number of thematic areas, including African emancipation, regional integration, sustainable development, trade union renaissance and unity. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, this training programme was offered in virtual mode in both 2021 and 2022.

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