Date: Sat, 12 Sep 98 11:09:17 CDT
From: email@example.com (Rich Winkel)
Subject: GLOBALIZATION: The Complicity of African Elites
/** headlines: 177.0 **/
** Topic: GLOBALIZATION: The Complicity of African Elites **
** Written 11:45 PM Sep 10, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 4:09 PM Sep 10, 1998 by firstname.lastname@example.org in africa.news */
/* ---------- "IPS: AFRICA: Who's To Blame For Neg" ---------- */
Who's To Blame For Negative Impacts Of Globalisation?
By Judith Achieng'
7 September 1998
NAIROBI, Sep 7 (IPS) - Globalisation would not have produced much
negative impact in Africa if governments consulted with trade
unions to ensure that economic programmes meet social requirements
like the workers welfare, according to trade union officials here.
The officials, attending a three-day seminar on Freedom of
Association which opened here on Monday, blamed African
governments for "blind complicity" with forces of globalization
in developed countries, which they claimed have eroded the power
of African governments to control and run their economies and
improve the living standards of their people.
"The dangers of a globalised economy is that investors come
into our countries, give conditionalities and governments accept
them without consulting their social partners," said Andrew
Kailembo of the Nairobi-based International Confederation of Free
Trade Unions (ICFTU).
Kailembo, who is ICFTU's secretary general, singled out the
Export Processing Zones (EPZs) which, he said, violates workers'
rights and contravenes international labour laws.
He said hundreds of thousands of workers have been laid off
under the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs), and that
thousands of others, in EPZs, are made to work long hours and not
allowed to form labour unions.
"We are not saying there shouldn't be SAPs and EPZs, but
social partners should be consulted when such programmes are being
implemented," said Kailembo, criticising EPZs' human faceless.
"We know that globalisation was inevitable, but the way it has
come, it is lacking a human face, and this is what we are
The seminar is being attended by about 30 top East African and
International Labour Organization (ILO) officials. "The parley is
seeking ways in which workers in the region can enjoy more freedom
of association by joining trade unions of their choice and be able
to determine the way they are run," according to a document
distributed by the organisers here.
Participants said the EPZs had not only violated the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights ratified in 1948, but also ILO's 87th
convention adopted the same year, which recognises the rights of
workers to association and also protects their rights to organise.
The ILO celebrates its 5Oth anniversary this year.
The EPZs is not, however, the only challenge facing the labour
unions in the region. The impact of globalisation on labour rights
has further been worsened by the conflicting labour laws in the
three East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
In Kenya, for example, more than 150,000 school teachers are
threatening to go on strike in October if President Daniel arap
Moi's government fails to implement a salary increment which it
had earlier promised. It will be the second strike by teachers
The strike notice comes barely a month after bankers downed
their tools to protest a new tax on their fringe benefits. Last
year, both teachers and nurses took to the streets demanding
better pay. The government declared the strikes illegal, although
the authorities were served with a 21-day mandatory warning notice
required by Kenyan laws. "This is a sign that available
legislations don't provide for proper dispute settlements," an
ILO official said.
Unlike Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda's government has abandoned
the idea of establishing EPZs after objection by unions. This,
however, does not mean that Ugandan workers enjoy freedom of
association, according to Wilson Okello of Uganda's National
Organization of Trade Unions (NUTU). "The government wants
investors, but it does not push them hard when their interests
clash with workers' rights," he said.
ILO's East African regional director, Ali Ibrahim, sees the
region's labour problems in colonial contexts. "I think the three
countries (which were ruled by Britain) have similar union
problems because their national labour laws came from the same
colonial background," he said.
"Some of the labour legislations seem to be out of step with
reality, and need to be brought back to reality after 30 years or
so of independence," he added.
For instance, labour laws in East Africa still require a
national trade union, to which others are affiliated. This
monopoly, according to the ILO convention, is a violation of ILO's
recognition of union diversity.
Kenyan trade unionist, George Odiko, agreed. "Perhaps we
should find how our governments can instead of using their old
legislations, incorporate international conventions which are very
clear on the rights of workers," he said.
There are already signs that East African governments are
modifying their constitutions. In Kenya, a parliamentary committee
has been set up to medernise labour laws, while in Uganda, a
similar technical committee has started working on the revision of
outdated labour legislation. And a new trade union bill will soon
be tabled in Tanzanian parliament.
"We are also seeking to harmonise our labour laws so that
investors don't get a chance to play East African countries
against each other to compete for investments at the expense of
workers," said Okello.(END/IPS/JA/MN/98)
[c] 1998, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
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