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01.11.2005 Business & Finance

Pan-African regional trade organizations to unite

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Accra, Nov. 1, GNA - Two main Pan-African trade unions on the continent, the African Regional Organization of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU/AFRO) and the Democratic Organization of African Workers' Trade Unions have met in Accra to begin the process of creating a new and stronger international trade union movement.

Both organizations by the process, seeks to form a new, free, independent, democratic and representative pan-African regional trade union organization on the continent After a two-day joint meeting at the weekend, both organizations made a declaration, termed the "Accra Trade Union Declaration", reaffirming their commitment to unite as social partners in order to better defend and promote workers interest as a regional body.

The declaration read at a media briefing after the session by Mban Kabu, Education Officer of the ICFTU/AFRO said the move is as a result of both unions recognizing that "representativity, union solidarity and improved service delivery to members require the highest degree of workers' mobilization, pooling of resources and a common united voice". It raised concern about the levels of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion in Africa; the lack of access to education and training, health, disease, protracted conflicts in some countries; the risk of not attaining the Millennium Development Goals; the lack of social protection that affects particularly women, youth, persons with disabilities, the aged and children, and the exposure to poor occupational health and safety conditions of majority of workers, particularly in the informal sector.

The declaration expressed concern that the trade union movement was under attack from governments, multinational corporations, and from institutions promoting a neo-liberal agenda, leading to informalisation of the continent's economies and falling membership of trade unions. The declaration was apprehensive about the unregulated globalization that is leading to increasing inequalities, the erosion of workers' rights, jobless growth, increasing numbers of "working poor" particularly in the informal economy, privatizations, reduced role of the state, devaluations, removal of subsidies, cost sharing in health and education and the deregulation of the labour market. It supported the recommendations of the Report of World Commission on Social Dimensions

of Globalization and the International Labour Organization's Decent Work Agenda and its role in poverty alleviation and the global economy through the four strategic objectives- fundamental principles and rights at work; employment; social protection; and social dialogue. The declaration rekindled the commitment of both organizations in the pursuit of the principles and objectives of the African Charter for Human and Peoples Rights.

The Accra declaration thus mandates the secretariats of both regional organizations to commence discussion with the leadership of OATUU and other interested parties in furtherance of its vision of creating a single and effective pan-African trade union organization. It has also mandated the organizations to disseminate information and sensitize its affiliates and the entire membership on the progress of the process of forming the new organization, with the view of seeking their consensus, and eliciting their constructive participation in the process.

The declaration directs the organizations to put in place and effectively implement a time-frame towards the unification process in Africa, as well as the division of tasks and responsibilities. It authorizes the regional trade bodies to maintain and strengthen its cooperation in its dealings with the Bretton-Woods Institutions, the World Trade organization, the European Union, and at several international engagements like the World Social Forum, the G8, the UN, the African Union, and the various sub-regional African bodies to create synergies in their actions.

The declaration resolved to strengthen all trade unions, quantitatively as well as qualitatively, and to continuously stimulate the involvement of members, women and the youth in the organizations' democratic structures and processes.

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