The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers Union (ICEM), begins its fourth regional conference in Accra on Friday under theme: Building Strong Unions for Sustainable Development.”
The sub regional conference, which is being attended by participants from about 20 countries in Africa, is expected to discuss issues such as members’ welfare, review past activities and to suggest ways that would help members to promote the concept of sustainable development in member countries.
The Ghana Mine Workers Union of the Trades Union Congress is hosting the conference that has attracted about 19 organisations in the chemical, energy, mines and general workers union from sub-Saharan Africa in the five-day conference.
Opening the conference, Mr Senzeni Zolkwama, ICEM President, stressed on the need to build strong and sustainable unions in member countries, which should be able to insulate unions from governmental influence and control.
He said events in Libya, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere were disturbing and for that matter, they should take interest in governance but that would depend largely on how formidable they would be.
Mr Zolkwama said workers should see themselves safe under a leadership that called for a vibrant union whose contribution could lead to harnessing of resources for their benefit.
Mr Kofi Asamoah, Secretary General of the Ghana Trades Union Congress said in building strong unions in the Sub-Saharan Africa for sustainable development, trade unions in Africa needed to overcome weaknesses and organizational challenges.
These include weaknesses in mobilization and low membership participation of union activities, lack of internal democracy and
transparency and lack of unity, inefficient and ineffective management of the unions and lack of capacity development for members.
He said the workers in Africa must begin to think more critically about the frightening, but not impossible to solve tasks that confront workers and all working people in the sub-Saharan Africa.
“It is the historical obligations of trade unions. But we can do so and only when we build a strong unions.”