17 February, 2021Somalia’s ratification of Convention 190 and six other International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions is the result of a successful campaign by trade unions to improve labour standards in the country.
The Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) says the ratification will benefit workers during the current Covid-19 pandemic and will assist in “resilient social and economic recovery.” IndustriALL affiliate, the Somalia Union of Petroleum and Gas Workers (SUPEGW), which also belongs to FESTU, took part in the ratification campaign.
FESTU secretary general Omar Faruk Osman says:
“We championed the ratifications by pursuing the ILO principles of tripartism, social dialogue, harmonious labour relations and met with the Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and the Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry. By ratifying these internationally recognized frameworks that set legal guarantees for workers, the Somali government is now obliged to ensure that the country’s domestic laws and policies are aligned to international standards and practice.”
FESTU says C190 -- Violence and Harassment Convention -- will promote gender equality at the workplace and help stop sexual and gender-based violence which is adversely affecting women in the world of work. The convention will also assist unions in their campaigns for the introduction of a sexual offences bill in the federal parliament.
Convention 144 on tripartite consultation will promote better industrial relations and improve stakeholder relations with government, employers, and trade unions.
Further, Conventions 187 and C155 on health and safety protect workers’ rights and will help to end unsafe working conditions that have injured many workers and will also improve workers well-being.
According to FESTU, Conventions 97 on migration for employment, C143 on migrant workers and C181 on private employment agencies seek to address the abuse and exploitation faced by Somali migrant workers abroad by providing legal protection. An ILO report states that most Somali migrant workers are employed as casual and domestic workers in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development region made up of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda, to which Somalia also belongs, and the Middle East, especially Yemen. The unions say the conventions lay a foundation on which the country can build a national labour migration policy.
The country’s federal parliament endorsed the ratification on 26 December 2020 and documents have since been submitted to the ILO. The unions attribute the success of the campaign to the willingness of social dialogue partners to work together and ensure that the country adheres to international labour standards.
Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa says:
“It is commendable that FESTU successfully campaigned for the ratification of multiple conventions which is strategic in that it provides wider instruments to deal with diverse issues affecting workers. We continue to urge unions to vigorously campaign for the ratification of C190 and the adoptions of recommendation 206 as a strategy to end violence against women at work.”
Photo of Somalia's flag from Wikimedia Commons