Human and trade union rights
EI member organisations in Africa joined a regional online conference on 20 July 2022 to share and discuss the state of democracy, human and trade union rights in the region. The webinar, which was attended by almost 200 union leaders and activists, reflected on strategies to defend and promote democratic values through and in education, and for responding to violations of human and trade union rights, including procedures for filing complaints with the ILO, UNESCO and United Nations. Strategies for strengthening internal democracy within the education union movement in Africa were also considered.
While opening the workshop, EI President, Susan Hopgood, cited the EI vision and values, and stressed the fact that Education International has been defending and promoting democracy, human and trade unions rights.
“We have, and will continue to fight for freedom of association, the right to organize, collective bargaining rights, professional freedoms, decent working conditions, gender equality and respect for diversity, and the right to quality public education for all”, she stressed.
The Chairperson of the EI Africa Regional Committee, Christian Addai-Poku, on welcoming the participants, said that many countries continue to grapple with serious violations of human and trade union rights, and that violent conflict and displacement continue to affect educators. He stressed the fact that the Regional Committee passed resolutions condemning these attacks, calling on the African Union, United Nations and Governments to protect schools and all education institutions from attack. “As EI member organisations in the region, we should continue exposing and challenging threats to human and trade unions rights. We should call for the democratisation of our countries and their institutions, but at the same time lead by example by deepening democracy in our own unions,” he concluded.
The Regional Director, Dennis Sinyolo on his part, reaffirmed the solidarity of the Region with all the union colleagues who are under attack. He stressed the fact that Education International, both in Africa and globally, is committed to gender equality and will continue to build capacity of women and young members, and to advocate for the full participation of girls and women in education and education union activities. Sinyolo also warned participants on the divide-and-rule tactics used by some governments to weaken unions. He urged the union representatives to apply democracy in their unions to prevent splinters and to unite and act in solidarity to achieve better results.
The panel discussions and the subsequent breakout sessions revealed that democracy in many African countries is only on paper, that governments manage to ratify the International Treaties/Conventions but refuse to apply them. Hence, there is the need to build strong strategies to resist the human and trade union violations.
The workshop adopted a statement that reaffirmed the unions’ resolve to defend and promote democracy, human and trade union rights in Africa and in education unions and called on the various stakeholders, including governments, international partners and education unions to ensure that human and trade union rights are imbedded in the curriculum and the education system as a whole.