The East African Community and the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at improving the work environment in the region.
The MoU which was signed at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania by EAC Secretary General Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko and Mr. Wellington Chibebe, the Director of the ILO Country Office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania will, among other things, address issues such as youth employment, extension of social security, and Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women at the work place.
The MoU is a follow up to another one that was signed between the two organisations in 2001. The 2002 MoU enabled the EAC and ILO to develop and launch a five-year East African Decent Work Programme (2010-2015).
Amb. Mfumukeko said that the revised MoU provides for the development of a framework for the harmonisation of the EAC Partner States’ policies on social security in line with the ILO Convention on Social Security (Minimum Standards) No. 102 of 1952.
“The MoU further provides for the expansion of micro, small and medium enterprises for employment creation. Also included is the development of an EAC labour migration policy as one of the facilitators of labour mobility in the Community,” said the SG.
Amb. Mfumukeko said the Community was striving to address youth unemployment as a matter of priority, adding that having well educated but unemployed youth out of work was a time bomb.
He disclosed that EAC Partner States were addressing the issue by seeking to make agriculture as an attractive income generating venture for the youth.
Noting that matters of Entry/Work Permit/Residence Permit have an impact on the immigration function in the Partner States, the EAC Secretariat would convene a joint meeting of the Chiefs of Immigration and Directors of Labour before June 2018to finalize the harmonization of Entry/Work/Residence permits.
A meeting of technical officers from EAC and ILO held from April 30 to May 2, 2018 agreed to enhance collaboration in the implementation of a two-year project towards the extension of social security benefits to migrant workers in the EAC.
In his remarks, ILO Country Director Wellington Chibebe said that his organisation would work with the EAC to accelerate regional integration and at the same time ensure that the drivers of integration, that is the free movement of labour, goods and services enhance livelihoods of the millions of working women and men and their families.
“We welcome the signing of this new Memorandum of Understanding, which will be based firmly on a new DWP for East Africa, addressing strategically prioritized areas agreed upon by the ILO on one side and the EAC and the East African social partner organisations on the other side,” said Mr. Chibebe.
Mr. Chibebe said that giving financial assistance to the needy instead of equipping them with vocational skills was akin to creating culture of perpetual dependency.
Also represented at the two day forum were the East African Trade Unions Confederation (EATUC) and the East African Employers Organisation (EAEO).