Labour seeks regional integration to improve workers welfare
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called for regional cooperation among African countries to enhance better working relationship and improved workers welfare for Africans.
NLC President Comrade Ayuba Wabba stated this Friday at the opening ceremony of the Organization of Trade Unions of West Africa (OTUWA) special delegates’ conference held in Abuja.
The NLC president noted that past efforts at regional integration have often focused on removing barriers to free trade in the region, increasing the free movement of people, labour, goods, and capital across national borders, reducing the possibility of regional armed conflict and adopting cohesive regional stances on policy issues.
He emphasized the importance of OTUWA for regional unity and cooperation of workers in meeting the challenges posed by current globalisation and increasingly competitive world markets.
He said, “It is our belief that trade unions regional solidarity is a possible solution to the continent’s deep and prolonged labour, economic and social crisis, at a time when the working people are experiencing the 'race to the bottom', prevalent neo-liberal policies of deregulation and privatization of national economies, while the continuing decline of state-imposed barriers to intercountry flows is paving the way for increased regional trade.
Wabba assured that the NLC will continue to play a vital role in the sustenance of OTUWA and other African regional trade union organisations for the benefits of the workers in the sub-region and Africa as a whole.
“We must reflect on the fact that West African countries today are weakly integrated nationally, regionally, and internationally. Ethnic and socio-political divisions are particularly dominant in the region. Our trade unions are small and labour centres significantly fragmented in many of our countries, and these are impediments to regional integration. Regionally, West African countries are divided by a wide range of institutional, legal, socioeconomic and cultural barriers. At the international trade union level, West Africa is increasingly marginalized. What we require at this moment are efforts on all fronts to build and ensure a strong regional trade union organisation to address and overcome the sense of disconnectedness in international trade unionism and the global labour movement,” he said.