Trade union influence on social policy is important in advancing and protecting social rights, social security, equality and good working conditions. Effective collective organization of workers is a prerequisite for influence on the social protection system. Both monetary and innovative fiscal regimes are some of the best suited vehicles to drive the sustainable funding of social protection, more specifically both the social assistance and subsidized social insurance.
Over 500 representatives from workers’ unions across the continent gathered in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, from the 20th to the 21st November 2019 for the quadrennial Congress of the African Regional Organization of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa). The FES Zambia was present at this Congress meeting as well as the Pre-congress event which took place between the 18th and the 19th November 2019. This event was used as a lobbying platform to have Social Protection as a priority by ITUC for the next 4 years.
During the 4th Ordinary Congress meeting major focus was placed on building unity within the movement in order to maximise impact on the policy-making process. Two underlying components of strengthening workers’ power were highlighted in the congress outcomes: growing the movement through organising more workers; deepening the internal democracy of the movement. The past four years have seen workers from the informal economy organise into unions and take important strides towards formalisation, notably through the extension of social protection coverage. This inspiring work remains the exception, but we can work to generalise the approach to ensure that more people can collectively improve their living conditions in a context where over 80% of workers operate in the informal economy. A united front is also needed to breathe renewed life into our continent through new strategies to tackle corruption, poverty, armed conflict, to end illicit financial flow and ensure a sustainable future for the youth.