The Africa Regional organization of Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-AFRICA) has launched a campaign against the escalating debt crisis engulfing the continent.
Speaking after launching the campaign, The outgoing General Secretary of ITUC -Africa, Comrade Kwasi Adu-Amankwah said trade Unionists from the 52 African countries stand against this abnormalise.
While calling for urgent action against the debt crisis, the ITUC-Africa lamented that the situation has led to poverty , inflation and other social vices.
The organization made demands as follows : 1. Debt Transparency: Transparent debt management practices are imperative to prevent unsustainable debt levels.
2. Inclusive Social Spending: Prioritize health and education spending, safeguarding citizens’ well-being amidst high debt service obligations.
3. Public Accountability: Governments must engage citizens in financial decision-making, fostering transparency and accountability.
4. Gender Equality: Implement gender-sensitive policies, addressing the disproportionate impact of debt on women in the workforce.
The time for action is now. The ITUC-Africa stands resolute in advocating for a sustainable way forward, safeguarding workers’ rights, ensuring equitable growth, and preserving Africa’s future.
What Can Trade Unions Do?
1. Active Participation in Debt Discussions in National Parliaments and Senates – Trade unions should advocate for and secure a place at the table during debt discussions within national parliaments/senates and governments. They must assert their presence in these crucial conversations to ensure that workers’ rights and the impact on essential services are thoroughly considered and protected during loan considerations.
2. Influence Policy Through Advocacy – By actively engaging in these discussions, trade unions can advocate for policies that prioritize workers’ rights and the maintenance of essential services despite high debt service obligations. This involves presenting informed and comprehensive proposals to policymakers, urging them to balance debt repayment with safeguarding workers’ interests. Trade Unions should advocate for prudent debt spending at all levels of government. Trade Unions should take keen interest in government budgets and expenditure and continuously engage government on the same.
3. Promote Transparency and Accountability and Debt Management – Trade unions should actively push for transparency in debt negotiations, demanding accessible information on debt terms and the allocation of funds. Additionally, trade unions should advocate for proper use of public money including debt. Their participation ensures governments remain accountable for fiscal decisions, safeguarding against compromising workers’ rights due to opaque debt management.
4. Gender-Sensitive Approach in Negotiations – As debt negotiations impact gender-specific employment and rights, trade unions must advocate for gender-sensitive strategies within debt negotiations. They can push for policies that address the unique challenges faced by highly educated women in the workforce, ensuring gender equality is a priority in debt management decisions.
5. Capacity Building and Awareness – Educating union members and the public about the implications of debt service on workers’rights and essential services. Empowering workers with knowledge and strategies to engage in discussions effectively amplifies their voices in negotiations.
6. International Collaboration and Support – Collaborating with global trade unions and organizations to garner support and insights from similar experiences in other regions. This collective strength can exert international pressure on governments and financial institutions to prioritize workers’ rights and essential services in debt negotiations.
7. Advocate for Innovative Debt Relief Programs – Trade Unions must advocate for negotiation strategies with creditors for favorable terms, repayment extensions, or debt restructuring. This alleviates the debt service burden, redirecting resources to vital services, thus safeguarding socio-economic well-being of workers.
8. Monitoring and Reporting – Establishing mechanisms to monitor the impact of debt service on workers’ rights and the workforce in general. Trade unions can regularly report these findings to stakeholders, ensuring that the human impact of debt decisions remains a central focus in negotiations”.