Working conditions are key dimensions of decent and productive work and issues relating to job quality are urgent in Africa, where most workers struggle in poor working conditions. Aspects of job quality addressed in the project include wages, problems of long hours and low pay, violence at work, poor maternity protection, and the stress created by demands of paid and unpaid work, all leading to low productivity.
The project has been designed to address a clear need, in Africa as elsewhere, for better understanding of these dimensions of job quality, the legal and regulatory frameworks that govern them, and the appropriate policy responses to address them.
The overall objective of the project is to contribute to poverty reduction and national development through improvements in the quality of men’s and women’s work in the formal and informal economy.
More particularly, the project seeks to:
- improve the knowledge and understanding of prevalent patterns of working conditions for men and women, and the underpinning causes and processes
- consider considers practical approaches to achieve better working conditions
- build national capacity to undertake the research, analysis and policy tools that enable governments and the social partners to measure, assess, monitor and address job quality.
This is particularly challenging in countries where most enterprises are medium, small and micro scale, and where informal economy employment is common. In these circumstances, achieving the effective application of laws and policies requires voluntary and participatory efforts at the workplace level.
The project’s approach to building capacity to improve job quality is based on four complementary strategies:
1) Strengthening national expertise and capacity of the tripartite partners to assess and improve working conditions for men and women;
2) Strengthening social dialogue and tripartite decision-making on working conditions;
3) Supporting the constituents to adapt and apply practical workplace-level tools and approaches (e.g. WISE and WIND) to translate decisions and policies into real improvements in working conditions; and
4) Fostering knowledge sharing among constituents and key stakeholders among and between local, national, regional and global levels.
Key project activities to date
Project activities have included:
- The adaptation and application of a survey tool on working conditions;
- Completion of national policy and legal reviews;
- A national survey of working conditions in Mozambique and Tanzania, particularly focused on the tourism sector;
- The publication of national profiles on working conditions for both project countries;
- The development and piloting of six new modules and guides for the WISE training methodology, now published as a WISE+ package.
Regional conference on policy responses to improving working conditions (December 2009)
In addition to the above, in December 2009, a high-level tripartite conference was organized by the project on Confronting Crises: Policy Responses to Improving Job Quality. This brought together national and regional researchers and tripartite representatives from across Africa. The Conference provided a valuable opportunity to share and examine the efforts being made across the region to improve working conditions. It concluded in unanimous agreement amongst participants on the priority working conditions’ issues to be focused on in future work.