May Day 2024: A Renewed call for jobs, peace, and democracy for shared prosperity.

Keywords : Declarations Human and trade union rights Peace And Security

The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa: brings forth the collective voice of over 18 million registered members across 52 African countries. On the occasion of this year’s International Workers’ Day commemoration, it extends its salutation to all African workers and workers all over the world for their priceless service, sacrifice and tireless and immense contributions towards productivity, prosperity and progress.

We pay glowing tributes to the workers who have succumbed to the pressures and unhealthy conditions of work. We extend our condolences and comfort to their families who have lost breadwinners, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, companions and confidants. May their souls continue to find eternal rest.
ITUC-Africa chose this year’s International Workers’ Day commemoration theme: "A Renewed Call for Jobs, Peace, and Democracy for Shared Prosperity," because it encapsulates the urgent demands and aspirations of the African workforce. Therefore, it is pertinent that we re-echo the voices and concerns of our members across the continent and draw the attention of the continent’s critical stakeholders to some pragmatic alternatives to fix the issues.

A brief context of the issues -
Recent reports from the World Bank and the African Development Bank highlighted the labour landscape in Africa as fraught with challenges. Informal employment remains pervasive, with over 70% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s workforce engaged in the informal sector. Profound and persistent informality perpetuates economic instability and deprives workers of social protection and decent working conditions.

Moreover, inadequate job creation exacerbates the plight of Africa’s youth, who face disproportionately high levels of unemployment and underemployment. The continent’s burgeoning youth population, projected to double by 2045, demands immediate attention to avoid exacerbating poverty and social inequalities.
As you are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, particularly for women and youth, who had borne the brunt of joblessness, job losses and reduced working hours. The slow recovery threatens to prolong their economic hardship and hinder their full participation in the labour market.

The global labour market has entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), driven by technology, innovation, invention, and artificial intelligence (AI). The continent’s weak response to digitalisation 4.0, as underscored by under-investment in Research and Development (R & D) in science and technology infrastructure, needs to be rebooted.

Additionally, rising civil wars and violent conflicts perpetrated by criminal and extremist groups, unconstitutional change of government, a rising kleptomaniac political and elite class steep in state capture, state paranoia, weak or absence of the rule of law, and instances of lousy governance pose significant threats to workers’ welfare, wellbeing, safety and rights. The persistence of these vices anywhere and anytime triggers, deepens and sustains political and socio-economic instabilities. Without political and socio-economic stability and respect for human rights, workers are vulnerable to exploitation and violence.

Concerns remain profound about the absence of efforts and measures to address gender disparities in the labour market, which are contributing to vulnerabilities and undermining women’s rights and dignity.

In light of these pressing challenges, we present the following demands and alternatives to African governments for urgent and genuine consideration:

1. Invest in education, skills training, and social protection to enhance employability and ensure a skilled workforce. We urge that social protection measures and programmes that are accessible, broad in coverage, and available to all categories of workers to safeguard and improve their welfare and wellbeing be implemented. Collaborative efforts to rein in Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and recourse to responsible borrowing and transparent debt management can improve the financing of education and social protection provisions.

2. Develop and implement imaginative policies and programmes that address gender disparities in the labour market and improve the governance of the labour market to ensure the promotion of equal opportunities for women.

3. Recommit to the ideals of responsible governance and combat corruption through the development and enforcement of the practice of the rule of law underpinned by genuine prosecution and sanction of offenders to dissuade impunity.

4. Engineer a people-centred security architecture based on investment in people and communities and providing early-warning conflict detection, containment management, and deterrence mechanisms to ensure peace and security and safeguard workers’ rights and safety.

5. Recommit to the genuine implementation of the provisions of national constitutions, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions to guarantee civil liberties, including the rights to freedom of association, collective bargaining, expression, assembly and safe working conditions.

6. Embrace and commit to establishing, functioning, and utilising inclusive social dialogue mechanisms and processes to resolve industrial disputes and further incubate pragmatic nation-building initiatives.

7. Ratify the Africa Union (AU) protocol on the Free Movement of the People to protect the rights of migrant workers and facilitate their freedom of movement within Africa. This will contribute to the effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

By seriously considering these suggestions, African governments can foster inclusive growth, reduce poverty, and create a brighter future for all workers and people on the continent.

Issued from Lome, Togo, on 1st May 2024.
The General Secretary
Akhator Joel ODIGIE

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