Author: Beyonce Diamond Kpogli

Dr. Kwabena Nyarko Otoo, Director of the Labour Research and Policy Institute at the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has called for fair rules under which trade is done in the country and across the whole African continent.

This, he said will make trading so easier for companies and individuals under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

He added that freedom of association, and basic minimum and decent wages across the continent will serve as a great relief for TUC members under the AfCFTA.

Mr. Kwabena Nyarko Otoo made this observation at a Social Partners’ Consultative dialogue on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by Trade Union Congress in partnership with International Labour Organization (ILO) Trade for Decent Work Project.

“Trade is an important component of our daily life but also affects employment. It has an impact on our members across all sectors of the economy. Trade is good, but if a trade is done under rules that are not fair some companies and firms will suffer and our members will suffer as well,” he said.

Pouring out his disappointment about the TUC not getting involved in the drafting and implementation of AfCFTA, Mr. Kwabena Nyarko Otoo noted that, it is important to involve the unions to share their perspective for the benefit of the continent as a whole.

“We are extremely disappointed that such a great initiative could go on across the continent without the involvement of unions.

So far as the trade policy stands for government, specifically AfCFTA on our members we thought it as a matter of necessity that the union would have been involved to share their perspective.”

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We are seeking to eliminate board barriers, we are seeking to implement free trade but we are doing so from 55 countries with different labour laws and practices.

Some have minimum wages and others do not have and to be able to have a fair playground, it is important that all the countries should submit to certain basic standards to be fair on labour treatment across the continent”, he explained.

On her part, Inviolata Chinyangarara, Senior Technical Specialist, ILO noted that it is not too late for the AfCFTA secretariat to involve Trade unions to address the issues related to labour in the AfFCTA.

She stressed that, ILO is committed to seeing decent work of ILO is at the center of all trade agreements. Emphasizing that decent work must be one of the key components of AfCFTA

“Trade is about food, is about services and human beings as well so we want to see international labour standards particularly the fundamental principles of decent work, freedom of association, basic minimum wage to be implemented in trade agreements”

In a speech delivered on behalf of the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Hon Ignatius Baffour Awuah, his Representative indicated that Ghana needs a sustainable solution in tracking the trade deficits and encouraging production within.

This, he believed would result in the strengthening of existing enterprises, and the creation of new ones which will create more job opportunities to absorb the unemployed.

“The Ministry believes AfCFTA is achievable if we all put in place the needed structures and systems to implement the required measures for the maximization of job creation.”

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