Brussels, 26 October 2007 (ITUC Online): Today a major two day Trade Union summit that will address the relationships between Europe and Africa is opening in Lisbon, Portugal, bringing together more than 60 trade union leaders from Africa and Europe ahead of a European Union – African Union Summit planned for 8 and 9 December during which a Joint Strategy for future and existing cooperation between the two continents is to be adopted.
Many trade union leaders from both Africa and Europe are concerned by the minimal attention that the Joint Strategy devotes to labour issues and decent work. This lack of interest from EU and AU leaders is hard to understand as the creation of more and better jobs is a common aspiration of peoples from both Europe and Africa.
Under the slogan “putting decent work at the heart of the Joint EU-Africa Strategy” trade union leaders will discuss issues related to employment, respect for workers’ rights, social dialogue, migration and economic partnership agreements (EPAs).
Participants in the Summit include on the European side: José Antonio Vieira da Silva, Portuguese Minister of Labour and Social Solidarity, Margarida Marques, director of the European Commission Representation in Portugal, Ana Gomes, European Parliament, Maria Helena André, Deputy General Secretary of the ETUC, João Proenca (UGT-P) and Manuel Carvalho da Silva ( CGTP-IN Portugal) and on the African side: Bience Gawanas, Commissioner Social Affairs Department of the African Union, Andrew Kailembo (ICFTU-AFRO) and Adrien Akouete (DOAWTU). ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder leads the International delegation.
A final political Declaration will be adopted by the Trade Union Summit in which concrete demands to the EU and the AU will be formulated. The Declaration will include proposals that social dialogue be given a central place in the EU-Africa Strategy as it is a key mechanism of democratic governance. Trade unions are likely to renew their call for sustainable development and the respect of workers’ rights, especially in the oil and mining sector in which many European multinational enterprises are operating. Finally it is expected that trade unions will urge European leaders to carry out their long-standing promises regarding development assistance and debt cancellation.
The Trade Union Summit is being organised at the invitation of the Portuguese trade unions UGT-P and CGTP with the help of the ETUC and ITUC, AFRO and DOAWTU. The European Commission, the Presidency of the EU and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) have given their support to this event.