A large group of trade union leaders from Africa and the European Union met in Yaoundé (Cameroun) on 4 and 5 October to remind the heads of state from these two regions that decent work must be placed at the heart of the Joint European Union - Africa Strategy. This second trade union summit was convened at the initiative of the ITUC, ITUC-Africa and the ETUC. The final statement will be transmitted to the two regions’ heads of state and government, which are set to meet in Libya at the end of November.
For Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC, this trade union summit provided an opportunity, within the current context of the global crisis, to bring together workers from these two regions sharing links and a common history and whose realities are intertwined. "This meeting, given significant backing by the ITUC, reflects the internationalism we actively support. The meeting’s packed agenda, benefitting from the valuable contributions made by several ILO experts, provided for debates on key topical issues underpinning the global decent work agenda, such as how to create or promote decent jobs, strengthening social protection and occupational training, managing migration in accordance with the framework established by the ILO, or how to combine trade and development," she underlined.
The trade union summit led to a joint message that will be sent to the two regions’ heads of state, emphasising the need to incorporate the key aspects of the global decent work agenda both within the Statement of the official Summit as well as within the action plans of the eight partnerships that will be presented in Libya at the end of November.
The heads of state from the two regions must promote concrete initiatives to meet the challenges at hand, such as the creation of decent jobs (including green and social economy jobs), the establishment of universal social protection mechanisms and the development of occupational training. Financial resources should also be allocated or redirected towards these priorities.
In a globalised economy, the progress seen within the framework of the EU-Africa partnership will benefit workers from the two regions and beyond. The trade union organisations also launched an appeal for the establishment of a social dialogue between the two regions and the inclusion of an explicit reference to this point in the documents of the official Summit.
The trade union statement was also sent to the delegates taking part in the 2nd African Decent Work Symposium, held in Yaoundé from 6 to 8 October. This high-level tripartite meeting was held on the initiative of the ILO, under the heading "Building a Social Protection Floor with the Global Jobs Pact".