A Union-to-Union Agreement between South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda Marks a Historic Milestone for Migrant Workers' Rights in the EHoA

A Union-to-Union Agreement between SSWTUF and CETU, as well as SSWTUF and NOTU, symbolises a unified effort to ensure the well-being and rights of migrant workers

Article | 06 November 2023

With the support of the ILO Better Regional Migration Management (BRMM) Programme, a significant commitment was reached on 6 November 2023, during a historic event held in Juba, South Sudan. Two Union-to-Union Signing ceremonies was held amongst African countries Trade Unions, namely South Sudan Workers Trade Union Federation (SSWTUF), the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Union (CETU), and the National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU) Uganda. This event marks a vital step towards enhancing the protection of migrant workers' rights in the three countries.

The Union-to-Union Agreement between SSWTUF and CETU, as well as SSWTUF and NOTU, embodies several key principles aimed at addressing issues related to the rights of migrant workers. These principles aligned with international labour standards, human rights treaties, and national laws, emphasised the non-negotiable principles of freedom of association. The agreement stressed the promotion of labour migration's positive contributions to the economies of South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda; the importance of raising awareness among migrant workers about their rights; and the need to fight racism, xenophobia, and discrimination.

During their welcoming remarks, Mr. George Paul, Secretary General of SSWTUF, Mr. Kassahun Follo, President of CETU, and Mr. Richard Bigirwa Secretary General of NOTU, emphasised their commitment to protect the rights and welfare of migrant workers in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and beyond.

The need to protect migrant workers was also reaffirmed by Deborah Akech the National Expert on Labour who was representing the Minister of Labour of South Sudan in the event. She congratulated the three unions on this great step and assured the Government of South Sudan's commitment towards protecting the rights of migrant workers.
The height of the ceremony was the signing of the Union-to-Union Agreement, symbolising a unified effort to ensure the well-being and rights of migrant workers. After the signing ceremony, Ms. Aida Awel, CTA, BRMM Programme, delivered closing remarks on behalf of Mr Alexio Musindo, the Director of the ILO Country Office for Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan. She highlighted the importance of this agreement and the pivotal role of the signatories in enhancing the protection of migrant workers' rights.

Furthermore, the signing of this agreement solidified the commitment to campaign for the ratification and domestication of international labour conventions and foster cooperation between governments to enhance labour migration governance. The Union-to-Union Signing Ceremony was not just a symbolic event; it represented a tangible commitment to safeguard the rights of migrant workers and improve their overall well-being. It sets a precedent for collaboration and cooperation between unions, governments, and stakeholders in South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda, fostering an environment where the dignity and rights of all workers, regardless of their migration status, are upheld. This significant step further demonstrates the power of collective action in addressing complex challenges and advancing the rights and protection of migrant workers in the region.