15 June, 2020IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Industrial Federation of Textile Leather Garment Workers Trade Union (IFTLGWTU) is carrying out Covid-19 awareness campaigns aimed at its members in garment and textile factories. Posters on prevention, sanitizers provided by IndustriALL Global Union and Mondiaal FNV, and soap have been distributed to 28 factories.
To get the message across to as many workers as possible, the union is publicizing the campaign through mainstream media, including television stations run by the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation and Walta Broadcasting. Radio stations that include Awash FM, and the Fortune Weekly newspaper are also publicizing the campaign.
Angesome Yohannes, IFTLGWTU president says:
“Covid-19 is a global pandemic that is spreading at an alarming rate causing huge social and economic disruptions. As a union, this is the time for joint efforts to minimize the impact. When workers get sick, the consequences for them and their families are dire as the pandemic increases job insecurity and slows down economies.”
The Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions, to which IFTLGWTU is a member, signed a Covid-19 workplace response protocol with the government and employers in March. The protocol outlines how factories should respond to the pandemic. IFTLGWU has set up health and safety committees at factories. However, the union is concerned by the slow pace at which some factories are adhering to health and safety standards to stop Covid-19.
Like most garment producing countries, Ethiopia has been affected by low demand due to lockdowns in most European countries and the USA where the garments are exported.
Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa says:
“We applaud the efforts by unions in Ethiopia to curb the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic will only be overcome through collective efforts. For this to happen, unions, employers and government must work together.”
Ethiopia introduced the World Health Organization recommended Covid-19 protocols but did not lockdown the country. The government says its approach is based on the country’s context. Over 2,500 cases of Covid-19 have been reported with 35 deaths.