28 – 30 November 2023 (Nairobi, Kenya) – PALU attended the 5th Annual Congress of the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) took place, centred around the theme and slogan “Amka Afrika,” a Swahili phrase meaning “Wake up Africa”, urge for transformative and sustainable change by tackling the labour force and workplace challenges, aiming to enhance the quality of life for everyday African citizens.

The three-day conference, which brought together over 300 delegates, featured the launch of the Debt Campaign by ITUC-Africa, a campaign convened under the auspices of the Stop the Bleeding Consortium (STB-C), comprised of seven other leading Pan-African organisations: AFRODAD, FEMNET, NAWI, PALU, Tax Justice Network Africa, Trust Africa. During a press conference, PALU’s CEO, Adv. Donald Deya, who also serves as the Chair of the STB-C, commended ITUC-Africa for initiating the campaign on their platform and trade union networks. Additionally, he announced that all seven consortium partners would collectively launch a broader, continent-wide campaign against debt and working towards sustainable debt restructuring in Africa.

The 5th  Annual ITUC Congress presented an opportune time call upon trade unions in Africa to begin to promote transparency and accountability in debt management by governments  The President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E. William Ruto, who officiated the Congress emphasized in his Opening Remarks the government's dedication to safeguarding the welfare of workers in the country, while reiterating that labour relations, trade unions, and social security are integral components of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

President Ruto further expressed: “Our commitment to achieving the highest standards of worker protection and welfare has motivated us to strive towards aligning our labour policy framework with all ratified international labour standards in Kenya.” He was confident that by doing so, it would spur economic vitality, raise incomes, encourage savings, and foster investment among Kenyan citizens.

The Opening Ceremony also saw the virtual participation from Prime Minister of Barbados, Hon. Mia Mottley. She emphasized the urgent need to purposefully harness the immense human capital of the Global South, particularly of Africa, as approximately 12 million African youths enter the labour market each year. Stressing the importance of safeguarding the workforce, she stated: “When they claimed we couldn't raise our minimum wage during the COVID-19 outbreak, we challenged that narrative to protect the vulnerable.” Hon. Motley concluded by advocating for intentional measures and mechanisms aimed at enhancing collaboration between the Public and Private sectors for the betterment of all.

The Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Gilbert Houngbo, assessed the prevailing conditions in Africa during his address. He highlighted the challenges facing the region, including conflicts and a lack of peace and security, substandard working conditions, and the escalating issue of job informalization. These factors collectively hinder the achievement of the United Nations sustainable development goals and of the AU Agenda 2063.

Finally, PALU extends heartfelt congratulations to Comrade Joel Akhator Odigie on his appointment as the new General Secretary of ITUC-Africa. PALU has consistently appreciated his contributions to advancing the Pan-African movement and eagerly anticipates collaborating closely with both him and ITUC-Africa in the future.

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