GO! Creative Helps the Solidarity Center Report on Unions’ Positive Role in Africa
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The Solidarity Center [solidaritycenter.org] released its report African Trade Unions and Africa’s Future: Strategic Choices in a Changing World as a way to heighten awareness of the income inequality, social inequality and joblessness in Africa and the important role African labor unions play in changing the dynamic. Solidarity Center Africa Regional Program Director Imani Countess says, “Without a doubt, African trade unions, using their ability to mobilize large sectors of society, have played an important role in advancing and stabilizing worker rights, broader human rights and democracy in the region.”
With few formal, full-time jobs available, more workers are turning to the informal economy to support their families. Trade unions across the continent are reaching out to street vendors, such as women who sell beads, sandals, wood carvings and other crafts; domestic workers; agricultural employees; and others to provide a collective voice for achieving social benefits, higher wages and job stability. Unions’ recognize that sustainable development and inclusive economic growth are only possible when gender equity exists.
In February 2013, the Solidarity Center, with support from the National Endowment for Democracy, launched a special research project in which field staff interviewed trade unionists in Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In addition, individual interviews were conducted with union leaders from Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The report presents the results of these interviews, supplemented with research conducted by the principal investigator, William Minter.
African Trade Unions and Africa’s Future includes five topical chapters on the economy, government, internal challenges to trade unions, the role of women and the changing policy environment. The report was used as the basis for discussions with nearly 40 African trade union leaders during the US-Africa Summit in August 2014 in order to ensure that the right to “decent work” was included on the agenda.
Says Countess, “Our hope is that this study and follow-up research will allow the Solidarity Center, as well as its partners in organizations and governments, to develop more efficient and higher-impact programs in support of the labor movement in Africa. In addition, ideally, this report will encourage such efforts in more countries and also provide useful reflection and synthesis that might be helpful for planning and for increasing collaboration and joint campaigning among unions.”