Trade unions from four African countries are advocating the adoption of tighter rules to safeguard African markets for local products in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) agreement.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC), Ghana, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) and Central Organisation of Trade Unions of Kenya (COTU-K) argued that the rules were necessary to deal with the risk of capture of the African market by the advanced countries which already have trade agreements with several African countries.
Addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday, Dr Yaw Baah, Secretary General of TUC, said that the associations were committed to work with the various trade ministries and governments to ensure that the AfCTA increase intra-African trade and investment to promote economic growth and employment creation.
The press conference followed a four-day Trilateral Trade Union Cooperation meeting between the four trade associations on the continent.
Dubbed 4th Conference of TUC Ghana, NLC, COSATU and COTU-K, the meeting was on the theme, ‘Promoting and protecting the rights of workers in Africa.’
As part of their resolutions, he called on African governments to invest in social dialogue, strengthen labour laws and the institutions of social dialogue to protect the right of workers in the face of continued lowering of decent work standards and abuse of rights of workers across the continent.
In response to growing unemployment challenges in Africa, he stated that the associations would embark on sustained campaign to change the nature of economic policies in trade, labour market and wage, investment and industrialisation among others, which have failed majority of Africans and benefitted a few.
Additionally, Dr Baah indicated that the associations would work with other social partners to develop alternative economic framework that delivers jobs and serves the need of Africans.
To be able to take advantage of the advent in technology, he said the associations would organise workers in both the formal and informal sectors more aggressively in view of the changing nature of the workforce and the world of work to be able to harness technology including artificial intelligence to serve the needs of Africans.
Dr Baah expressed concern about violence and harassment in the world of work including gender-based discrimination and encouraged the association to work towards the ratification of the recently adopted International Labour Organisation (ILO) and its accompanying recommendations are domesticated in national laws and policies to deal with the problem.
President of COSATU, Losi Zingiswa, reiterated the need for Africans to change its development approach to include creators of technology that could specifically address the needs of Africans.
She said the associations were ready to partner with development partners to work towards alleviating challenges confronting productive and effective African workers to improve their livelihoods.