Communiqué : FES SUMMER UNIVERSITY, Cotonou Social 2013

Mots Clés : Déclarations Travail des Jeunes - Sensibilisation, Syndicalisation et Renforcement des Capacité des Travailleurs

We the young trade unionists from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali,
Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and ITUC-Africa ; having gone through the 2013 Summer
University organized by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung which held in Lokossa (Benin) from
Monday 26 to Friday 30 August 2013, under the theme ‘Innovative trade union strategies for
recruitment and mobilization of youth in trade unions’ ;

Recognize that the theme of the meeting was relevant given the situation of trade union
organizations in the different countries in the sub region. We express our content for the
opportunity given us to brainstorm on the theme as young trade unionists through the quality
trainings dispensed by seasoned experts as well as through the in-depth exchanges and

We acknowledge that only twenty million of the six hundred million workers in Africa are
unionized, making it a meager 3.33% as stated by the African Regional Organization of the
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) ;

We reiterate that the youth represent the majority of the population of the sub region and are the
most affected by unemployment, joblessness with its repercussions of tragedy and misery. We
establish that neoliberal economic policies implemented in West African countries have
aggravated the frustration of this cohort of the population which is supposed to be the pool for
trade unions ;

We recognize the role played by employment agencies in reducing unemployment, however note
that this change in employment relations has worsened not only the precariousness of jobs
offered to the youth, but has also hampered unionization ;

We recognize that most women, men and youth in the sub region are engaged in informal,
precarious, non-productive and less remunerating jobs. Furthermore, these persons are not
protected by any law and do not have any kind of social protection ;

We the participants from the summer university also note the loss of class consciousness as well
as the loss of core union values by union leaders, union mismanagement, the absence of internal
democracy, non-compliance with union rules and regulations, the absence of foresight and vision
as contributing factors to the weakness of the African trade union movement ;

We recognize that the poor image of unions has resulted in the decline in union membership, the
loss of interest of the youth in the trade union movement, the extreme reduction of union
resources, and the unions’ inability to train and provide services to their members ;

In addressing some of the problems and challenges mentioned above, we reiterate that today, it is
important and urgent for trade unions to implement coherent policies for the youth by
establishing youth committees at all levels while promoting the representation of youth at
leadership positions within the trade unions ;

We also emphasize that services provided to members and especially the youth must be the major
concern of the unions. This can be done through capacity building and the promotion of income
generating activities ;

Having observed that proliferation of unions is a serious obstacle for reaching union goals, we the
young unionists from West Africa appeal that organizations set up intersyndicales in the spirit of
promoting unity of action in countries where trade union pluralism exists ;

In carrying forward the gains from the meeting, we commit to set-up an alumni of the 2013
summer university in order to capitalize on the capacity developed from the program for the
progress of the West African trade union movement ;

We also suggest that the trade unions in the sub region take ownership of these recommendations
and use them as tools of claim in the various countries.

Finally, we congratulate the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung for the continuous support it extends to
young trade unionists in West African through various programs.

Issued in Lokossa, 30 August 2013

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