ADDIS ABABA (ILO News) – The President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E. Girma Wolde Giorgis opened the first national tripartite symposium on “Mitigating the present economic and job crisis through decent work and social dialogue” held under the auspices of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Addis Ababa.
The national symposium, which gathered some two hundred high level representatives and experts from government, workers’ and employers’ organizations, UN agencies, embassies, and NGOs, shared best practices on how the international community can efficiently respond to the financial and economic crisis.
“The world is battling one of the worst global economic crises since the great depression and (…) Decent Work is key to poverty reduction and economic security”, President Girma Wolde Giorgis said.
What began as a crisis in finance markets has rapidly become a global jobs crisis. Unemployment is rising. The number of working poor is increasing. Businesses are closing. Concern is growing over the balance, fairness and sustainability of the sort of globalization we have had in the run up to the financial crash.
“Africa bears no responsibility for the outbreak of this crisis but suffers tremendously under its consequences – this reminds that we still do not have a system of global social justice and that the current form of globalization is not fair”, stated Mr. Jurgen Schwettmann, ILO Deputy Regional Director for Africa.
“ILO should work to strengthen social dialogue and push developed countries in supporting Africa”, added Mr. Kassahun Folo, President of the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions.
The national tripartite symposium is part of a larger series of events marking the 90th Anniversary of the ILO from 21 to 28 April 2009 in Addis Ababa. Throughout this week, in Africa and in the rest of the world, 100 of events are taking place under the global theme of “Social Dialogue on Decent Work for a Fair Globalization”.
“The Ministry’s reaffirms its commitment to stand with the ILO in advancing decent employment opportunities in Ethiopia as it moves towards completing its first century in 2019”, announced Mr. Hassan Abdella, Ethiopian Minister of Labour and Social Affairs.
On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the ILO, Africa refers to the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, adopted unanimously in June 2008 and reaffirming that all members of the Organization should pursue policies based on strategic objectives of the Decent Work Agenda - job creation and enterprise development, social protection, social dialogue and rights at work.
“The primary objective of the 90th Anniversary is not simply to celebrate our past but to use this moment as a strategic opportunity to focus on the pressing priorities of our people today”, explained Mr. George Okutho, ILO Director of the Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa.
“In its 90th years of services, ILO has been an advocate of permanent link between economic efficiency and social efficiency”, underlined Ms. Frehiwot Worku, Vice-President of the Ethiopian Employers Federation.
Three major papers were presented at the symposium:
■Paper 1: Macro, fiscal and labour market policies for growth and resilience to the global economic crisis, by Mr. Getachew Adem, Head, Development Planning & Research Department, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
■Paper 2: Private sector response to the impact of the global economic and financial crisis: The Case of Ethiopia, by Ethiopian Economic Association
■Paper 3: Strengthening Employment policies through social dialogue to promote employment and social justice, by Ms. Sabrina De Gobbi, Research Economist, ILO Geneva.
Discussions highlighted the need for achieving greater policy coherence and supporting the Decent Work Agenda, especially in the context of the global economic crisis.
“Poverty reduction through decent work has been a priority for the One UN and in particular for the ILO”, underscored Mr. Fidele Sarassoro, UN resident coordinator – UN system in Ethiopia.
“It will be essential that the crisis response becomes also an opportunity to increase long term productivity through investments in works force skills, research and development, investment in quality health care and education and other measures that will improve the quality of labour, enterprise productivity and environmental protection”, added Mr. Sarassoro.
The recommendations at the national tripartite symposium would serve to complement the outcomes of similar initiatives and processes that have been undertaken by various organizations such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) since the onset of the crisis.
“Since the financial crisis impacts on jobs and poverty, it is imperative that the mitigation strategies that are being developed should focus on job creation (…) We must seize the opportunity of the crisis to create jobs by thinking out of the box, just as the New Deal of the Roosevelt administration in the United States did during the Great Depression of the 1930s”, advised Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of UNECA.
“The symposium … will provide a blueprint for improving our efforts in the implementation of the ILO 2008 Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization and the Decent Work Agenda”, concluded President Girma Wolde Giorgis of Ethiopia.
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