Labour seeks re­gional in­te­gra­tion to im­prove work­ers wel­fare

Daily Trust - - LABOUR - Sto­ries by Mustapha Suleiman

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.

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