SADC worried with harassment of workers, union leaders

Banner 3
Banner 3

—-The Southern Africa Trade Union Co-ordination Council (SATUCC) says it is worried with the continued harassment of workers and labour union leaders in some countries in the southern region. Speaking in Mozambique today during the ministerial meeting of Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers and Social Partners responsible for employment and labour being held at Joaquim Chissano Conference Centre in the capita,l Maputo, SATUCC Executive Secretary, Austin Muneka, said the continued harassment of workers and labour union leaders in Swaziland and Zimbabwe is a source of worry. Mr Muneka said the two concerned Governments of Swaziland and Zimbabwe should find an amicable way of sorting out labour disputes other than harassing the workers and their union leaders. Mr Muneka said the arbitrary arresting and harassment of workers and their union leaders is not the best way of solving labour disputes. He said it is sad that in some instances Government forces had used excessive force on the workers and their union leaders. Mr Muneka, however, said he is happy that SADC has put in place measures that will help in bringing the lasting solution to this problem. The SATUCC Executive Secretary also said his organization is concerned with the continued abuse of migrant workers by some employers in the region. Mr Muneka observed that violation of human rights, especially for the migrant workers, has of late been on an increase in the Southern region hence need to find a remedy that will harmonise the situation. He also said rape and sexual harassment of workers, especially women and girls in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), remains endemic, saying these are some of the issues that leaders in SADC need to look at critically and find a lasting solution. And speaking at the same function International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director, Decent Work Team for Southern and Eastern Africa, Vic van Vureen, said there are about 250 million employed in the world today and most of these are youth. Mr Vureen said some of these employed youth are in SADC, hence the need to be committed in the creation of more jobs in the region. Mr Vureen also reaffirmed his organisation’s commitment to finding a solution to the problem of employment in the SADCC region. He said his organisation will work tirelessly in improving the labour market in the SADC region, adding that his organization will work with each individual Government in the region towards the creation of more jobs. Zambia is being represented at the meeting by Labour Minister, Fackson Shamenda, Labour Permanent Secretary, Trevor Kaunda, Zambia’s’ High Commissioner to Mozambique, Japhen Mwakalombe and Zambia Congress of Trade of Unions (ZCTU) president, Leonard Hikaumba. Others are Federation of Free Trade Unions of Zambia (FFTUZ) president, Joyce Nonde -Simukoko, Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE) president Alfred Masupha, Labour Commissioner Cecilia Mulindeti and several other senior Government officials. The Mozambique Labour Minister, Maria Helena Taipo, also called on SADC member states to remain focused and committed to the creation of more decent jobs in the region especially for the youth so as to improve on the economic performance of the member states and the living standards of its people. The SADC Region, with a total population of about 200 million and combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about US 190 billion dollars and an estimated growth rate of around six per cent per annum, is one of the most promising developing regions in the world in terms of economic potential. However, the fact that 40 per cent of the region’s population still live in conditions of abject poverty translates to a need for an estimated sustained growth rate of around six per cent per annum. In 1999 the total combined growth rate for SADC stood at 1.5 per cent. The successful implementation of SADC objectives as applied through appropriate employment and labour policies and strategies will contribute to the attainment of the sustained growth required to alleviate and subsequently eradicate the unacceptably high levels of poverty in many SADC countries. Among the issues on the Agenda for this high level meeting, is the Implementation of the 2012 Decisions of the SADC Committee of Ministers and Social Partners, preparations for the 2014 comprehensive Report on the implementation of the Ouagadougou 2004 Declaration and Plan of Action and consideration of the Draft SADC Decent Work Programme. Other are consideration of the Road map to the Development of Youth Empowerment Promotion Strategy, report on the Piloting of Assessment Tools in Member States, SADC Labour market Information Systems (LMIS) Resource mobilization and Capacity Building: Draft Action Plan, consideration of the Draft SADC Code on Tuberculosis in the Mining Sector, Labour Migration in the SADC facilitation of Compliance of ILO Core Conventions and Ratification of the ILO Priority Conventions among others.