ITUC-Africa hails Doha Dialogue as Africa, Gulf countries unite to improve labour migration

THE African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) has commended the just concluded Doha Dialogue on labour mobility between the Africa Union, Gulf Cooperation Council States, Jordan and Lebanon.

The dialogue, which brought together ministers, senior officials and representatives from 38 countries, was held recently in Doha, Qatar with the aim of improving labour migration governance and protection of the rights of migrant workers.

Nigerian Tribune reports that the Doha Dialogue is seen as a step towards improving labour migration governance between Africa and the Gulf regions.

Participants at the dialogue adopted the Doha Declaration, which includes mechanisms and procedures to sustain the dialogue between the GCC, Jordan, Lebanon and African Union countries, to enhance joint coordination and address current and future challenges facing countries of origin and destination, with regard to African labour mobility to the GCC, Jordan and Lebanon.

The Doha Declaration emphasised the necessity of improving the management of labour mobility, promoting fair employment, addressing illegal practices to ensure decent work, as well as enhancing regional cooperation among countries participating in the dialogue to consult and exchange ideas and experiences that promote sustainable development and benefit both sending and receiving countries.

The Dialogue looked at several issues and resolved, among many others, to contribute to resolving many labour migration issues facing both Africa and Gulf regions, especially in terms of skills development, certification and mutual recognition of skills and qualifications, recruitment, occupational safety and health, access to justice, use of technology to improve outcomes of labour migration and other common issues.

In a statement, ITUC-Africa General Secretary, Akhator Joel Odigie, praised the initiative, describing it as a milestone in protecting migrant workers rights.

He, however, stressed the need for effective implementation of the dialogue, calling for clear and inclusive processes to be established.

ITUC-Africa, in the past six years, has led a sustained campaign for better labour migration governance and the establishment of a mechanism such as the Doha Dialogue necessary to improve the protection of migrant workers rights.

“The Doha Dialogue is an excellent step in the right direction to utilising social dialogue to improve labour migration governance between the two regions.

“Partners in the dialogue, including social partners, must all be provided technical support to ensure inclusive, collaborative and effective implementation. This is where development partners like the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) come in.

“As organised labour, we shall continue to engage, monitor and report on the implementation of the Doha Dialogue,” Odigie said in the statement issued from ITUC-Africa Lomé office.

The Doha Dialogue also resolved to increasing collaboration with trade unions, employers organisations, public and private sector, recruitment agencies, regional economic communities and other stakeholders to build partnerships that enhance decent work.

Odigie said ITUC-Africa will continue engaging, monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the dialogue to ensure that it achieves its goals.

He added, “We also applaud the State of Qatar for providing the platform to realise this initiative. It is a testament to Qatar’s ever-readiness to engage, collaborate and contribute to improving the state of play in labour migration governance.

“We equally salute the African Union and its signatory member states to this Doha Dialogue for their readiness to reorder and improve their efforts at protecting migrant workers from the continent.

“Our commendation also goes to the other Gulf Cooperation Council States, Lebanon and Jordan members for their commitment to this dialogue.

“However, what is important is that the implementation arrangements and processes are clearly and effectively set out, as the Terms of Reference (ToR) describes. We look forward to the finalised ToR (it was subjected to a final review that will be concluded in a month).

“We also want to call on the African Union to take further steps to ensure the creation of an African Labour Migration coordination process like the Asians’ Colombo Process. Asians use the Colombo Process platform to undertake coordination and coherence engagement before going to the meetings of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD).

“A determined and well-organised process helps reduce competition, ease of focus on the issues/themes for discussion and better target outcomes. Africa needs to avoid the race to the bottom and position its engagement with the GCC, Lebanon and Jordan in ways that ensure better protection for its people. Labour Migration is a response to the realities of the ever-dynamic global labour market. Migrant workers, as supply-side responses to the labour demand gaps, do not and should not lead to their commodification.”

Meanwhile, the Ministers of Labour, who participated in the ministerial meeting, agreed to launch the Doha Dialogue as a voluntary and non-binding consultative platform, chaired by the Permanent Secretariat of the State of Qatar and the African Union, to enhance regional and international cooperation on workforce employment between Africa, the GCC countries, Jordan and Lebanon, to be held every two years at technical and ministerial level, with the chairmanship rotating between the African Union, GCC countries, Jordan and Lebanon.

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