CARES Regional Meeting: The struggle of the trade unions for decent work in West Africa

Keywords : Newsletters Structural Transformation For Africa’s Development

On the sidelines of the 111th session of the International Labour Conference, the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), with the support of its partners the Confédération française démocratique du travail (CFDT) and the Institut Belleville, hosted a regional meeting of the Comité d’Analyse et de Recherche Syndicale (CARES) in Geneva. The meeting took place from 13 to 16 June. Its aim was to support trade union action in the economic and social fields to promote decent work in West Africa.

The regional project "Support for trade union economic and social action in the promotion of decent work in West Africa" was the focus of discussions at the meeting. The work of the four national CARES in Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Togo, which held their second national seminar this year, was presented.

The high cost of living in West African countries, as a result of the recent COVID-19 crises and the war between Ukraine and Russia, which have shaken the world and exacerbated inflationary pressures, was one of the main issues discussed at the meeting. To gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by workers in the region, national CARES reports on this topic were reviewed.

A regional trade union position paper on the high cost of living in West Africa was also produced, with the aim of formulating recommendations and concrete actions to improve workers’ living conditions at national and sub-regional levels.
In addition to these discussions, the meeting provided an opportunity to take stock of several other important aspects of the project. The [main observations arising from the] capitalisation of experience since the first phase of the project were examined. The aim was to share good practices and learn from past experiences in order to strengthen trade union action in the region.

Another important item on the agenda was the preparation of the trade union position paper on the 2023 national budget in the countries participating in the CARES project: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. This document, prepared as part of the project at the national level, aims to examine the economic and social impact of the national budget and to make recommendations for better protection of workers’ rights and effective consideration of their concerns at the national and subregional levels. The fact that this issue is on the agenda of a regional meeting is a significant step forward in CARES’ sub-regional advocacy work on national budgets.

The ITUC-Africa/CFDT project, "Support for trade union action on economic and social issues to make decent work a reality in Africa", involves some thirty ITUC-Africa-affiliated trade union organisations in eight West African countries. In each country, the project operates through an inter-syndicale structure of stakeholder trade union organisations, the national CARES, which represent a source of [important] technical support to unions as regards economic and social issues.

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