James Ojo, Abujai

Workers under the aegis of International Trade Union Confederation Africa (ITUC- Africa) yesterday, frowned at the narrative of Africa as a failed continent and demanded the repatriation of stolen wealth stashed in developed economies.

Welcoming delegates to the fourth ordinary congress of the ITUC Africa in Abuja,  its President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, who is also President of the Nigeria Labour Congress ( NLC) rebuffed the notion that Africa is a failed state demanding for fair trade rather than free trade.

Wabba said Africa wanted to reverse her dismal contribution to global trade which a 2015 report by the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) put at 2.39 per cent.

“Africa wants to add value to her raw materials and create jobs for her teeming youth. We want to export semi-finished and finished products to the global market without the overbearing restrictions of trade tariffs and standardisation constraints placed by the developed world.

“Fair trade is the only way Africa can attract genuine investments into the continent, accumulate capital, industrialise, create decent jobs, bring peace, stop forced migration and beat poverty, disease and untimely death.

“Africans want global support and solidarity to institutionalize a democratic culture that is popular, transparent, accountable and beholden to its people.

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“The challenges before workers and workers’ representative organizations are not only daunting but overwhelming. We must be strengthened by the fact that the fight before us is a fight for survival. There are very few options left to us; we are condemned to fight for our very life. And to engage in a good fight, we must draw strength from the avalanche of our survival instincts,” he said.

Delegates from over 47 African  countries are attending the congress.

Wabba admonished participants to  demand the change of business rules so that the people are placed first before profit which resonated with the Philadelphia Declaration of 1948.

The NLC President lauded the theme of the Congress  ‘Unite and Make a Difference’ noting that it could not have come at a better time when the fate of workers hang on a precarious and perilous cliff.

“Never has organised capital been more daring and menacing. Never has the ideals of freedom, human dignity and the ecosystem of rights been assaulted as they are today. Today, labour has been mislabeled as a mere commodity. Today, universal labour guarantees are being presented as privileges rather than social rights.”

Also in attendance were, Sharan Burrow, General Secretary ITUC; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the American Federation of Labour and Confederation of Industrial Organisations (AFL-ClO).

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