SATUCC and the Solidarity Centre hosted a Regional Advocacy Workshop, that brought together its affiliates from Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe, namely, Lesotho Federation of Trade Unions (LFTU), Zambia Confederation of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions (ZCTU. The virtual meeting took place from the 26th to the 27th of May 2021. The seminar had an attendance of 22 participants (9 women and 13 men) trade unionists. The objective of the workshop was to discuss the Regional Development on Labour and Employment, the Impact of COVID-19 on the workers in SADC and identify areas of work, collaboration and networking for trade unions.
In her opening remarks, the Executive Secretary of SATUCC, Cde. Mavis A. Koogotsitse hailed the cooperation partner Solidarity Center, for its tireless support in providing technical and financial assistance to the various activities of SATUCC. She noted the importance of the workshop and set the stage to capacitate the affiliates to influence various national and regional policies through social dialogue.
The workshop noted that the regional development on Labour and Employment included the development of the SADC Employment and Labour Policy Framework (2020-2030), SADC Decent Work Programme (2021-2025); SADC Labour Migration Action Plan (2020-2025); new SADC Protocol on Employment and Labour and SADC Labour Market Observatory Initiative. An analysis of all the above-mentioned policy documents noted the growing importance of labour migration governance in the region.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, SADC member states were already discussing the development of the national labour migration policy frameworks and some countries had already advanced in this process, such as Zimbabwe. Rather than treat labour migration as a security issue, SADC is now looking at it as a development issue and as a key area to promote decent work in the region. Hence, it is understood that it would be important to bring the issue of labour migration into the SADC Employment and Labour arena. This is being done as a way to strengthen the work that has already started and ensure that all member states are aligned in the development of their national policies on labour migration.
Recognizing that several member states seek to be more protectionist in terms of employment opportunity by prioritizing national citizens, which has on several occasions resulted in conflicts such as xenophobia and other forms of attacks on foreigners in SADC. The SADC ELPF speaks of decent work for all, regardless of nationality, this alone makes it clear that citizens of member states have the same rights, including participation in processes of development and application of ILS’s to defend their rights and interests in destination countries.
It was noted that the SADC Employment and Labour Policy Framework speaks of regional integration, obviously focusing on aspects of labour, employment and social security portability. W The framework of regional integration clearly states that there is a need to remove all obstacles to the free movement of goods and services, therefore, placing this issue as a pillar is a way of strengthening the ongoing discussions at the national level around labour migration and governance.
The workshop concluded with the attending affiliates agreeing to (i) Advocacy and Campaigns activities to ratify SADC protocols; (ii) Link with other countries and work on a common project to ensure that ex-South African miner workers and other workers receive their pensions through WENELA; and, (iii) Take these discussions to the country level and ensure that there is a full appreciation of what is really happening and also the full appreciation of protocols and a deliberate effort to capacitate the local unions to campaign for the realization and implementation of the protocols at the national level (domestication).