Ghana TUC advocates AfCFTA labour provisions to protect workers
Members of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Ghana have called on African State Parties to ensure that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) has labour provisions to prevent the exploitation of workers in member countries.
They are of the view that standardising labour requirements for countries under the agreement would create level playing field for competition and promote decent work agenda that provides opportunities for better job creation, social protection, respecting rights of workers and freedom of expression.
The members made the call at a Social Partners Consultative Dialogue on AfCFTA, which was organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Accra
Speaking in an interview, Dr Kwabena Nyarko Otoo, Director for Labour Research and Policy Institute of the TUC, said as trade was known to affect employment, it was a necessity that unions were involved in the process leading to the establishment of the AfCFTA and its provision.
“It is about sharing our perspectives and ensuring that the process is fair and inclusive and would eventually benefit the country.
“We are extremely disappointed that such a mammoth, very monumental initiative could go on across the continent without the involvement of unions.”
He said implementing free trade with about 55 countries with different labour regulations and practices demanded state parties to ensure decent wages and standard labour rights were met.
Mr Peter Joy Sewornoo, Senior Advisor to Secretary-General of AfCFTA, said in the absence of provisions on labour, current provisions demanded that protocols were implemented in accordance with national legislations.
“Even though at the continental level it may not mention explicitly the labour provision, once it provides for it being done in accordance with national legislations, then there is another way labour laws can be enforced,” he said.
He called for stronger collaborations and collective advocacy of labour unions on the continent to make recommendations that would push state parties to make such provisions.
Madam Inviolata Chinyangarara, Senior Technical Specialist, ILO Country Office, Abuja, said it was not late for trade unions to make input into the drafting of sub protocols of agreements such as youth and women in AfCFTA , being drafted.
She called on labour unions to engage the AfCFTA secretariat on labour clauses for trade agreements, adding that, “trade is about goods, it is about services, but it is also about human beings”.