Issa Aremu charges African governments on workers rights, development

Issa Aremu

Vice President, IndustriAll Global Union (Africa), Comrade Issa Aremu, has urged African governments to insist on fair international trade and ensure that they do not undermine the rights of African workers.

He also advised that their quest for national development and foreign direct investments (FDIs) should not be at the expense of the workers.

He made the assertion while addressing a meeting on Trade and Industrial Policy of INDUSTRIALL global union in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Aremu observed that the decisions of multinationals to invest in Africa were often inspired by access to markets, tax holidays, cheap raw materials and supply chains, subsidies and low wages rather than mass decent sustainable jobs, technology transfers and national development.

“Miserable low wages, long work hours, child labour and labour dumping, as well as direct importation of cheap prisoner-workers to Africa make up the new motivations for some Chinese investment in Africa,” he said.

Aremu, who is also Secretary General of Textiles Workers Union and member Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) National Executive Council (NEC), therefore, cautioned African governments to be weary of trade and investment deals

These, he alleged, would consign them perpetually to producers of raw materials, export base for foreign multinationals’ products as distinct from developing producer economies.

He stressed that international trade issues were too important and weighty to be left with governments alone, and expressed labour support for the recent proposals by 90 developing countries including Nigeria demanding for changes in World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules that restrain national development priorities.

He said the demand for fair international trade must be linked with development of African economies, pointing out that “Africa should copy China by also adding value to its abundant natural raw materials, create jobs for its youthful population, and stop uncritically clapping for China which takes the Continent’s raw materials, dumps finished goods and even imports prisoners/workers to Africa” he said.

He observed that China had dramatically uplifted 250 million citizens out of absolute poverty through job-led growth, mass industrialization and infrastructural development in the last two decades.

Aremu added: “What was good for China is even more desirable for Africa.”



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