ILO provided a platform for knowledge sharing among social partners in EAC- IGAD Member States

The ILO is implementing a project “Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance in the IGAD Region: Improving Opportunities for Regular Labour Mobility” in collaboration with the IGAD Secretariat and financed by the European Union, Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF).

News | 22 October 2019
Under this project, the ILO CO - Addis Ababa in close collaboration of the ILO CO-Dar Es Salaam, conducted a capacity building workshop for social partners from 14 to 17 October 2019, in Arusha, The United Republic of Tanzania. The workshop aimed at building the capacity of employers’ and workers’ organizations in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region through their exposure to promising and successful practices from the sub regional employers’ and workers’ organizations in East Africa Community (EAC).

About 40 participants, drawn from the EAC, EAEO, EATUC, and Social partners in IGAD Member States attended the four-day workshop. Officials from the ILO, EAC, IGAD, East Africa Trade Union Confederation (EATUC) and East Africa Employers Organization (EAEO) delivered their remarks at the opening of the workshop.

Mr. Alexio Welcoming workshop participants
Alexio Musindo, Director, ILO Country Office for Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan and Special Representative to the AU and the UNECA welcomed participants and stated “The ILO promotes free movement of people to ensure migrant workers enjoy their rights as citizens of a country.” He further explained, “This workshop provides a knowledge sharing platform for workers’ and employers’ organizations on how they can collaborate towards regional integration and influence policies related to labor migration and mobility at regional level consistently with the ongoing discussion on free movement of persons within IGAD region”. He underlined the fact that the voice and influence of social partners is crucial in the implementation of free movement of protocol. Mr. Musindo explained, “The ILO selected Arusha as the location of the workshop to allow IGAD Member States social partners to learn from the experiences of the EAC and East Africa social partners i.e. EAEO and EATUC.”

Mr. Stephen Niyonzima, Head of Labour and Migration Department, EAC Secretariat said, “The EAC integration is people centered and private sector driven. The EAC also supports labour migration as enshrined in the treaty for establishment of EAC and the EAC common market protocol and also works with social partners to facilitate realization of free movement of labour in the community”. Mr. Stephen stated that the EAC is in the process of developing a labour market policy with a focus on rights of workers, labour statistics, remittances, informal sector and bilateral agreements for EACs migrant workers beyond the community.

Mr. Okanya Dan, EAEO Coordinator, appreciated the opportunity for the knowledge sharing platform provides by the ILO and underlined the need to share knowledge and strategize priorities between the East Africa and IGAD Members States, where three of the EAC members (Kenya, South Sudan, and Uganda) are also members of IGAD. Mr. Dan added “Regional integration cannot happen without free movement of human and goods. We, the EAEO, supports the establishment of IGAD employers association and will be happy to share our experiences.”

Ms. Caroline Khamati, Executive Secretary of EATUC, stated decent employment is key for sustainable development and highlighted the need to collaborate among the ILO, workers’ and employers’ organizations and other partners in her welcoming speech at the opening of the workshop.

Ms. Coumba Diop, Chief Technical Advisor and Mr. Ephrem Getnet, Technical Expert of the project introduced the objectives of the workshop to participants, the relevance of the project for regional integration in the IGAD region, and facilitated group discussions during the four-day workshop. This event is a follow up to the sub-regional workshop organized for social partners in May 2019, where participants expressed the need to have a tripartite engagement on sub regional matters and further reiterate the need for strengthening the Horn of Africa Confederation Trade Union (HACTU) which was created in October 2018 and also support the establishment of IGAD wide Employers organization. IGAD was created in 1996 with the mission of assisting and complementing the efforts of the member States to achieve, through increased cooperation: food security and environmental protection, peace and security, and economic cooperation and integration in the region. IGAD Member States are: Djibouti, Eritrea (membership suspended), Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

During this workshop, social partners form the IGAD region, also benefitted from the experiences of senior experts of the ILO from H.Q. Geneva, Cairo, Abuja and Africa Regional Office.
EAC and IGAD Member States social partners capacity building workshop participants

Mr. Naren Prasad, Senior Economist, Research Department the ILO, Geneva, introduced the work of the ILO and the decent work agenda and also highlighted the major Issues and Challenges of Migration Governance in the IGAD region and Role of ILO Instruments (C97 and C143). Mr. Ken Chamuva Shawa Senior Economist, Regional Office for Africa discussed the importance of Regional Integration Migration and Mobility in Africa. This was followed by Mr. Ephrem’s presentation on Global and Regional Frameworks on Migration and the Role of Social Partners in Labour Migration and Mobility Governance.

Additionally, Mr. David Dorkenoo, Specialist for Workers’ Activities, Abuja Office, the ILO and Dr. Farid Hegazy, Senior Specialist for Employers' Activities Decent Work Team for North Africa, highlighted the role of social dialogue and tripartism, focusing on ILO-s instruments such as C98 on collective bargaining and C87 on the right to organize. They facilitated two parallel group discussions (one for employers’ organizations and the second for workers’ organizations) during which social partners in IGAD region identified strategic priority areas to engage with the IGAD Secretariat and build strong IGAD-level social partners, They reviewed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to their national institutions, as well as the social partners organizations at IGAD level.

During the parallel sessions, East Africa employers’ (EAEO) and workers’ (EATUC) organizations shared their promising practices on how well they are closely collaborating with the EAC in realizing regional integration. For the workers’ organizations group, Ms. Caroline underscored the fact that HACTU needs to first strengthen its internal structure and capacity and then build a close and good working relationship with IGAD, with the help of the ILO. For the employers’ organizations group, Mr. Dan elaborated how EAEO operates and also shared some promising practices. The employers further discussed the establishment of an IGAD region employers’ organization, and reviewed the draft constitution forming the new borne institution. Additionally, it was agreed the Ethiopian Employers Federation to continue coordinating initial activities towards the establishment of the regional employers’ confederation.

At the end of the workshop, Ms. Caroline from EATUC highlighted the need to have convergence among social partners, i.e. between workers’ and employers’ organizations, to ensure the voices of social partners are heard in policy and decision making. Mr. Dan from EAEO also shared Caroline’s notion on the importance of close and agreeable working relationship among social partners as well as regional body i.e. IGAD. He also added IGAD region employers organizations need to strategically define priority areas and to get prepared for challenges.

Ms. Yemisrach Benalfew, Migration Officer, Health and Social Development Division, IGAD, noted the need for social partners to have representation in IGAD as there will be more opportunities to work together especially when IGAD’s Free Movement of People and Transhumance Protocol is adopted.

The ILO will continue its supports to IGAD Member States and the sub regional social partners, under the EU funded project “Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance in the IGAD Region: Improving Opportunities for Regular Labour Mobility and Migration in the Region”