Abuja (ILO News) –The Assistant Director-General and Regional Director of the ILO Regional Office for Africa, Mrs. Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, has called on stakeholders in ECOWAS region to institute proper labour market governance in order to promote the decent work agenda. She made this statement at the opening ceremony of the 2019 ECOWAS Social Dialogue Forum. In her address, she expressed her delight with the partnership that existed with ECOWAS Secretariat saying that with such a collaboration, some policies that address the issues of decent work in the region have been developed, adopted and were being implemented. Mrs. Samuel-Olonjuwon also added that the Free Continental Trade Zone for Africa which needed a strategic response could be facilitated with the ECOWAS investing in the institutions of social protection, migration and social dialogue in the region. She therefore assured the meeting of ILO’s continuous support to the Forum and urged the General Assembly to use the Forum as a medium to foster industrial peace.
The 2019 Social Dialogue Forum which had as its theme “Strengthening Social Dialogue for the Promotion of Decent Work in the ECOWAS Region” brought together tripartite partners (government, employers and workers organisations) from ECOWAS region to deliberate on labour issues affecting the region as well as review and validate some essential ECOWAS Policy documents on labour and social affairs.
Identifying the key work deficits in the region, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne represented by Dr. Sintiki Ogbe, in her opening remark, identified the need to provide more effective measures to address the issues of gender inequality, low per capita income and poor infrastructure facing youth and women in West Africa. Dr. Jagne further urged the meeting to contribute actively in the discourse by proffering solutions to the multifaceted problems facing the region. She also wanted the forum to provide effective guidance for an effective implementation of policies.
In his contribution, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour & Employment, Mr. William Nwankwo Alo, speaking on behalf of the Honourable Minister, recommended to the ECOWAS Member States to incorporate Social Dialogue, which was one of the 4 pillars of the Decent Work Agenda. On the issue of minimum wage, Mr Alo stated that without any doubt, social dialogue and collective bargaining were veritable tools in addressing inequality and ensuring fair wage distribution within the ECOWAS region.
Goodwill messages were given from the Organisation of Trade Unions in West Africa (OTUWA) and the Federation of the Employers of West Africa (FOPAO).
The 3-day (16 – 18 July 2019) forum was organised by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with technical and financial support from the International Labour Organization (ILO). Over 70 participants including representatives from the 15 ECOWAS Member States were in attendance. These participants were also drawn from Government institutions, Ministries, Trade Unions, Employer groups, ECOWAS Parliament, ECOWAS Commission and the Media.