Sustain the Legacies of Winnie Mandela, Labour urges African Leaders
Trade unionists in Africa have urged African leaders to immortalize the memory of the late Winnie Madikizela Mandela, an anti-apartheid freedom fighter and former wife of Nelson Mandela who was laid to rest at a massively attended funeral at the week end in her township of Soweto. Winnie Madikizela Mandela died at Easter at the age of 81 in South Africa.
Addressing the eighth African Regional Executive Committee, in Dakar, Senegal last Thursday, the Vice President (Africa) of the Geneva-based Industriall global union, Comrade Issa Aremu said sustaining the legacies of Winnie Madikizela Mandela amounts to “throwing apartheid permanently into the dust-bin of history”, failing which he said “Africa risks resurrection of the evil of apartheid which Winnie courageously confronted at immeasurable costs”. Comrade Aremu who addressed the 8th Regional Executive Council meeting of the global union in Senegal described the iconic heroine of South African liberation as “the mother of the modern democratic South African Nation and the Continent, Africa!”
The Nigerian Labour leader who is also NEC member of NLC recalled that together with her late husband, Nelson Mandela Winnie epitomized remarkable sacrifices for the freedom of all of us against the tyranny of apartheid. “Lest we forget, not long ago racist South Africa shamelessly separated the beautiful peoples of that great country on account of their God-given colors. Apartheid South Africa even callously separated young handsome husband — Mandela from his beautiful wife; Winnie for 27 years! Winnie courageously joined the millions who fought and defeated apartheid.”
The labour leader urged trade unionists especially female unionists in Africa to learn from the leadership example of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, adding that as a stateswoman, “She was labour friendly, a working class stalwart who favored minimum wage and decent work for the workers.” “She combined rare multiple roles of a woman: a mother, grand mother, freedom fighter, party organizer and a parliamentarian among others. She was a good woman who exhibited unconditional love for others”.
According to the labour leader, Winnie Mandela’s quotable quotes, include: “women should rise up to the challenge of their marginalization in male-dominated society”, “women are their own liberators” and “Nothing about us without us”.
Comrade Aremu hailed what he called consolidation of democratic process in Africa citing the new development in Zimbabwe and successful swearing-in of President, Cyril Ramaphosa as the 5th President of the Republic of South Africa following the resignation of former President Jacob Zuma. He hailed Senegal as “a symbol of Democracy in Africa” adding that while “many countries in the West Africa sub-region had witnessed anti-democratic military coups, Senegal has always been governed by constitutionalism”
On the recently signed continental controversial African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) signed by Forty-four (44) African countries recently, comrade Aremu urged all African leaders to “show the proof that AfCFTA is not another top-down deal signed behind the legitimate aspirations of African peoples for a common wealth, not just common market”. He therefore asked for mass consultation with all the relevant stakeholders including trade unionists on the new trade pact. AfCFTA’s main objective is promotion of continental trade liberalization leading to a Continental Customs Union (CSU) by 2022 and the creation of an African Economic Community by 2028!
The labour leader condemned the recent sentencing of the Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for 12 years on account of what he called “trumped up corruption charges just to prevent him from standing for the October presidential elections”. According to him “the development in Brazil shows that democracy is not guaranteed worldwide unless democratic forces are vigilant to defend it.”
See full text attached!
REMARKS BY COMRADE ISSA AREMU, mni VICE PRESIDENT, IndustriALL GLOBAL UNION AT THE SUB SAHARAN AFRICA REGIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON THURSDAY APRIL 12, 2018 — DAKAR, SENEGAL
I bring warm greetings from the Executive Council headed by President Jörg Hofmann, General Secretary, Valter Sanches, 6 Vice-Presidents: Issa Aremu, (Sub-Saharan Africa) Tahar Berberi, (North Africa) Raul Enrique Mathiu, (Latin America and the Caribbean), Anders Ferbe,(North America) Carol Landry, (Europe) and Yasunobu Aihara (Asia-Pacific).
Younger comrades and new members must know about history of Industriall. IndustriALL Global Union is the result of a merger between three former global union federations: namely, (IMF), International Metalworkers’ Federation, (ICEM), International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions and (ITGLWF,) International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation. The historic founding Congress took place in Copenhagen on the 19th June 2012. The second historic colorful Congress took place took place in Brazil from 4–7 October 2016 in Rio de Janeiro where the current Executive was elected. IndustriALL Global Union represents more than 50 million working people in more than 140 countries, working across the supply chains in mining, energy and manufacturing sectors at the global level.
The 2nd World Congress of IndustriALL Global Union with the theme, “Fighting Forward/A Luta Continua” had over 1,500 delegates drawn from 600 affiliate unions from more than 100 countries. Out of these, 58 unions from 28 countries attended from Africa.
Again I salute all affiliates from Africa that were part of the history in the two congresses. On behalf of the newly elected Executives, I hereby once again express my deep gratitude and appreciation to all our affiliates in the Sub Saharan Africa region for the support and cooperation. I congratulate all the members of the Executive Committee of the Sub Saharan Africa Region.
NEW REGIONAL SECRETARY
It’s a pleasure to be in Dakar, for the eight (8th) Executive Committee Meeting of IndustriALL Global Union Sub Saharan Africa Region. This Executive Committee is significant in special way. It is the first after the appointment of the new Regional Secretary, comrade Paule France Ndessomin. We appreciate the great contributions of Comrade Fabian Nkomo, the former Regional Secretary as we welcome sister Paule, to continue to add value to our GUF.
I salute the secretariat of the choice of Dakar, the capital city of Senegal. Am visiting like some others the first time. Special appreciation to the host affiliates in particular Brother Diob for the efforts to make this meeting a success. Special thanks to the staff for their initiatives.
IN PRAISE OF DEMOCRACY
Senegal is a symbol of Democracy in Africa. While many countries in the West Africa sub-region had witnessed anti-democratic military coups, Senegal has always been governed by constitutionalism. Like my country, Nigeria, Senegal got independence in 1960. It has produced so far 4 democratically elected Presidents which shows political stability. Conversely Nigeria, has produced as many as 14 Heads of States, more than half of which were military dictators. As a global union, we must reaffirm our commitment to democracy. Two ministers attended the women committee meeting yesterday. It was clear that Senegal allows for vibrant independent trade unions . Special greetings to our affiliates in Senegal and in particular, the Co-Chairperson, Comrade Diop .for the successful hosting of the Executive Committee and Women Committee Meetings here in Dakar.
Again let me remind of the tragic death of Comrade Kabuya Theodore Mulamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He died about a month after the 2nd World Congress on Friday November 11, 2016. Affiliates are concluding the arrangement of raising some solidarity fund for his family. The challenge has been how to access DRC in light of the crisis there.
AFRICAN UNIONISTS MUST IMMOTALIZE WINNE MANDELA; MOTHER OF THE NATION
Winnie Madikizela Mandela was both the mother of the modern democratic South African Nation and the Continent, Africa! She was the authentic Mama Africa! She together with her husband, Nelson Mandela epitomized remarkable sacrifices for the freedom of all of us against the tyranny of apartheid. Lest we forget, not long ago racist South Africa shamelessly separated the beautiful peoples of that great country on account of their God-given colors. Apartheid South Africa even callously separated young handsome husband- Mandela from his beautiful wife; Winnie for 27 years! Winnie courageously joined the millions who fought and defeated apartheid. She combined rare multiple roles of a woman: a mother, grand mother, freedom fighter, party organizer and a parliamentarian among others. Trade unionists especially women in Africa must learn from the leadership example of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. As a stateswoman, She was labour friendly. She was a working class stalwart who favored minimum wage and decent work in particular.
MY MEMORY OF MAMA WINNIE
She was a good woman who exhibited unconditional love for others. My close contact with Mama Winnie was in Abuja Nigeria in 2010 at a National Dialogue/ round table on : “The African Woman and Politics”. I just bought a book: WINNIE MANDELA ( A LIFE) by Anne Marie Du Perez. I demanded from her an autograph of the book. Without hesitation she obliged me with a pleasure and a warm smile. Her signature/ autograph “MUCH LOVE” is the best I ever had from any great figure in the world (and I had a bagful!) . Since last year with comrade Patrick of NUM South Africa I had planned my visit to her home in Soweto before death came calling. May her soul Rest In Peace !
SYMBOL OF DIGNIFIED COURAGE
Mama Winnie is a symbol of dignified courage. I recall that former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo was the moderator of the Round Table. Obasanjo we all know is the modern day African King-King who derives pleasure to dictate to others with little tolerance for others to do same to him. As the Chairman, spoke endlessly on divisive local Nigerian issue which had nothing to do with theme of the Dialogue. After, he then decreed few minutes each to all the female panelists including Mama Winne. She simply ignored Obasanjo’s time dictatorship, took her time to speak on the relevant topic of the day. Some of her quotable quotes are: “women should rise up to the challenge of their marginalization in male-dominated society”. She also said “women are their own liberators”. The one I found most powerful was; : “Nothing about us without us”. I will like to suggest that our women committee should learn to identify a number of great women leaders like Winne on our continent, and share their experiences and history for young female activists as a source of inspiration. WINNIE was also an organizational woman who despite frustrations with ANC still kept fate with the ANC to the end.
VIVA INDUSTRIALL AFRICA!
This year marks the 6th anniversary of the formation of our global union.
I commend the regional office for keeping faith with the spirit of our statutes by holding regular Meetings of the Executive Committee and Women Committee despite limited resources and time. Our Region has held eight (8) successful Executive Committee Meetings after the Inaugural Congress of IndustriALL Global Union on Tuesday 19th June, 2012 at Copenhagen, Denmark;
Executive Committee Meeting held in South Africa on 22 April, 2013;
· Nigeria, 6–9 November 2013;
· Mauritius, 3–4 April, 2014;
· South Africa — Regional Conference, 14th — 16th
October 2014, Pretoria;
· Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 20–21 April, 2015;
· Ghana, 20–21 April, 2016 and;
· Harare, 30th March 2017.
· Dakar, Senegal, 12th April 2018
Having demonstrated our capacity to hold successful Excos, I think it is time we as a region demand to host the Executive Committee Meeting of the IndustriALL Global Union as a matter of right. And why not the world Congress!
The eight Women Committee Meeting of the Region successfully held on Tuesday, April 10th 2018 under the leadership of sister Beauty Zibula (Mother of IndustriALL Africa!). IndustriALL affiliates across the globe organized series of activities to mark the 2018 International Women’s Day with the theme; “PRESS FOR PROGRESS”. We are proud that Affiliates in Nigeria and Africa were part of the global process to advance women progress. Let me use this opportunity to call for renewed determination to defend women workers’ rights and promote gender equality and parity. We must popularize the WOMEN PLEDGE we adopted in Sri Lanka last year. We must implement 40 per cent women representation in the leadership of affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union. In line with the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, we must press for progress implement our 5 goals; build union power, defend workers’ rights, fight precarious work, confront global capital and ensure sustainable industrial development policy.
We also urge countries that are yet to constitute their National Councils to borrow a leaf from countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe and urgently constitute their National Councils. The best way we can bring the affiliates together is through the country councils.
THE MEANS AND THE END
Let me say that all these structures, namely National councils are meant to achieve the adopted 5 GOALS of IndustriALL Global Union adopted at the 2nd World Congress namely; Building Union Power, Confront Global Capital, Defense of Workers’ Rights, Fight Precarious Work and Ensure Sustainable Industrial Development. By the time we take country reports, it is clear that significant progress has been made based on key areas of the regional strategic plan.. But there is considerable room for improvement. We thank the Geneva office for the support. In particular brother Atle Høie.
ORGANIZING THE UNORGANIZED
We are excited that many affiliates are recruiting more members and more Affiliates are joining IndustriALL Global Union in Nigeria and other countries. There have been remarkable Organising efforts in formal and Informal Sectors (Textile Union, NUPENG in Nigeria). However this mass membership must translate into prompt payment of affiliation dues.
DEFENCE OF WORKERS’ RIGHTS
Our affiliates are in the struggle to defend the members’ rights at their respective sectors. I attended the 10th National Congress of NUMSA in Cape Town. I bear witness to vibrant union fighting for members’ rights under the theme “Building Strong, Vibrant and Politically Conscious Workplaces”. In 2015, I attended NUM Congress in Johannesburg and subsequently its CWC Meeting on 2nd — 4th June 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa. Again I witnessed a union that is standing up for workers’ rights under the theme; BACK TO BASICS; MEMBERS FIRST. SACTWU on 21–24 September, 2016 held its 13th National Congress in Capetown with the theme; “Defend the democracy, protect workers, build unity, fight corruption, grow jobs and strengthen service to members” while NUTG of Nigeria had its 11th National Congress between Wednesday 16th and Friday 18th March, 2016 with the theme; “Industry and Labour: Back to Basics.” Both unions commendably are building union power to confront global capital in an atmosphere of great challenges. In January 2015 I was at Victoria Falls here in Zimbabwe to witness a successful 8th Congress of Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (ZEWU) with the theme; “Workers Rights are Basic Human Rights, let us reposition ourselves in defence of our right to job security”. Two weeks ago, SACTWU organized a remarkable bargaining conference while NUPENG just concluded its delegates conference. NUFLAMPE and Textile union in Nigeria are peacefully working together to organize members across jurisdictions instead of fighting each other. We should not use the method against our class enemies against our selves.
FIGHT PRECARIOUS WORK
Affiliates are doing remarkably well to engage employers and government in securing jobs and just work environment. As precarious work is becoming the norm, with most employers taking advantage of mass unemployment to violate workers’ rights, affiliates are taking measures to confront the exploitative actions of employers. Most of our affiliates joined the global campaign against precarious work on Friday October 7, 2016 and 2017 with rallies and a lot of manifestations against cheap Labour. Let me use today to demand that we give solidarity to Ghana Mine workers union in its fight against exploitative employers.
Notwithstanding the current economic challenges and the peculiar operating challenges of the textile sub-sector in Nigeria, it is remarkable that the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) where I come from sustained the struggle for a living wage for members. The union signed the 45th national collective agreement with the Nigeria Textile Garment and Tailoring Employers Association (NTGTEA). The agreement significantly raised wage rate in the industry by 13 percent. 18 and 15 per cent wage increases were achieved in 2012 and 2014, 10 per cent in 2016, respectively bringing total cumulative wage increase to 56 per cent per cent through the process of collective bargaining. However given the massive currency devaluation and attendant inflation, the industry minimum pay is yet to take our hard working members out of poverty.
MINIMUM WAGE IN SOUTH AFRICA AND NIGERIA
Let me commend the affiliate unions of South Africa for pushing for national minimum wage in line with IndustriALL’s goal. Currently, negotiation on the 5th national minimum wage is going in Nigeria. First minimum wage was signed in 1981. Affiliates must share experiences on how to get better deal on the negotiating table.
SUSTAINABLE INDUSTRIAL POLICY
Nigerian affiliates have been having Joint Action to mark Africa Industrialisation Day (November 20). The day offers affiliates of IndustriALL opportunity to advance the goal of the global union to ensure Sustainable Industrial development. The focus has been on how to promote beneficiation and transform abundant agricultural and natural resources to finished manufactured goods through valued added production and massive job creation.
2017 Africa Industrialisation Day (AID) was quite remarkable. With the support of IndustriALL Global Union Head Office, Geneva, Switzerland we held three (3) remarkable activities to mark the 2017 Africa Industrialisation Day (AID) namely; 6th Special Policy Dialogue Session on Friday 17 November; Press Conference on Sunday 19th November and the Rally/commemoration on Monday 20th November 2017. The focus of discussions was on FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION (INDUSTRY 4.0): IMPLICATIONS FOR AFRICA. The objective was to critically examine the opportunities for Africa to diversify its economy, promote mass decent employment with respect to workers’ rights within the context of digital/smart manufacturing (Industry 4.0).
Profound appreciation to IndustriALL Global Union for the material and organizational support for the campaign for sustainable industrial policy in Africa. We salute the President Jorg Hoffman and General Secretary, Valter Sanches Assistants of General Secretary: Kemal Özkan, Jenny Holdcroft for their singular commitment to re-industrialization of the African continent. Special appreciation goes to Brian Kohler, Director, Health, Safety and Sustainability who was the key resource fellow for the special policy dialogue on Industry 4.0. We also salute comrades from affiliates in Africa namely; Kwarko Mensah Gyakari (GMWU), Angeline Chitambo (ZEWU), Christine Olivier (NUMSA), Mathebane Patrick (NUM), Kenneth Lethabo Mogane (SSA Regional Officer) and Comrades Ngabeni Nkala and Makiadi Mugabe (ZEWU) who actively participated in all the events and shared their experiences. Special thanks to the Honourable Ministers of Industry and Trade in Nigeria, namely …for the partnership that made AID a success. We remain committed to making Africa Industrial Day (AID) a major regional campaign in Africa in line with the sustainable industrial development goal of IndustriALL Global Union. We are proposing that this year we take the campaign to South Africa.
TRADE AND NEW CONTINENTAL TRADE AGREEMENT
I commend the Industriall for setting up the Working Group on Trade. Recently, Forty-four (44) African countries recently signed on to the controversial African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy under the legitimate pressures of stakeholders notable Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and MAN (Manufacturers Association of Nigeria) pulled out on Tuesday, 21st of March. AfCFTA is the Africa’s version of European Union’s Treaty of Rome (signed by member-countries some 60 years ago!). The main objective is promotion of continental trade liberalization leading to a Continental Customs Union (CSU) by 2022 and the creation of an African Economic Community by 2028!
All African leaders must show the proof that AfCFTA is not another top-down deal signed behind the legitimate aspirations of African peoples for a common wealth, not just common market. They must therefore consult with stakeholders including trade unionists. The uncritical membership of World Trade Organizacion (WTO) of most African countries including Nigeria in the 1990s with attendant massive lowering of tariffs through wholesale trade liberalization arrested the nascent African manufacturing and development leading to massive collapse of labour intensive industries like textile and automobile due to unfair competition. Definitely Africa needs intra-trade rather than external Aid and loans and unfavorable trade with Europe, America and China. Trade between African countries is miserably relatively low. It accounts for only 10% of all commerce on the continent — compared with 25% in south-east Asia. With One African Market, undoubtedly , the agreement brings together 1.2 billion people (almost population of India or China) with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion!
While intra-African Trade can bring economic benefits to member states, there should be broad consultation and participation to avoid the pit-falls of past trade agreements.
DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION; I CONGRATULATE PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA
We hail the new Democratic development in Zimbabwe and South Africa. IndustriALL Global union hereby congratulates the new South Africa President, Cyril Ramaphosa on his election and successful swearing-in as the 5th President of the Republic of South Africa on Thursday 16 February 2018 following the resignation of former President Jacob Zuma. In his inaugural speech at the parliament, the President promised that On the 1st of May first national minimum wage would commence in South Africa.
LULA: DEMOCRACY NOT GUARANTEED IN THE WORLD
We condemn the recent sentencing of the Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for 12 years n account of trumped up corruption charges just to prevent him from standing for the October presidential elections. The development in Brazil shows that democracy is not guaranteed worldwide unless democratic forces are vigilant to defend it.
NEED FOR UNITY AND ORGANIZATIONAL FORGIVENESS
We can only address the above challenges if we are all united as affiliate unions of IndustriALL. There must have been a lot of legitimate disagreements among comrades and even among unions during the course of realizing the five goals. We must however resolve these disagreements in favour of the workers. There must be organizational forgiveness for all unions to move forward.
BRIDGE THE GREAT WIDENING DIVIDE BETWEEN THE RICH AND THE POOR
Lastly we must demand for an end to neoliberal policies that say government has no business with business. On the contrary we must make the point that the art of governance in developing economies like ours is a serious business.
Our adopted political Resolutions in Rio also called on IndustriALL to continue fighting for an economic model based on rights, fairness and dignity, and supported by strong trade unions.