The Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) – the umbrella organisation of independent trade unions, welcomes the decision by the Council of Ministers of the Federal Government of Somalia to approve the Draft Labour Code for Somalia. This now paves the way for both Houses of Parliament to debate and enact the Draft Labour Code.
This Draft Labour Code is set to officially repeal the outdated Law number 65 (Labour Code of Somalia) that came into force on 25 October 1972, which does not meet the Somalia’s constitutional provisions, International Labour Standards and Somalia’s International Human Rights Obligations as it contains draconian provisions that have not only failed to protect workers in Somalia but, have in fact facilitated the exploitation and egregious human and labour rights abuses committed against working women and men of Somalia.
For instance, Law number 65 has singularly been used to trample upon workers’ basic rights such as the right to freedom of association, the right to freely and independently belong to a trade union organisation, the right to strike and the right to collectively bargain for better working conditions. Law number 65 has been the real impediment hindering social dialogue and tripartism from taking roots in the country.
FESTU is proud of its unwavering support over the past eight (8) years, in the collective push to have Somalia revise Law number 65. FESTU and its affiliated unions have been unceasingly campaigning for the democratic and inclusive reform of law number 65 with the clear and meaningful involvement of the tripartite constituents of the government, trade unions and employers guided by the technical expertise of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Indeed, the Draft Labour Code has been developed through a participatory process involving tripartite constituents comprising of the Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs (MoLSA), FESTU and the Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the help of the ILO specialised offices in Addis Ababa, Cairo and Geneva.
FESTU is proud to be associated with these commendable efforts to revise the Labour Code to reflect the present economic and social realities facing the country, and to ensure that the Labour Code complies with the International Labour Standards and other International Conventions ratified by Somalia, that is set to replace the archaic Law number 65 that has been in use over the past 51 years.
“We wish to assure our affiliated unions, workers, the Somali public and other stakeholders that the Draft Labour Code guarantees human and labour rights of the working people of Somalia while specifically protecting the inalienable rights of workers, the rights to freedom of association, union organising, collective bargaining, and the right to strike … I assure workers that labour dispute resolution mechanisms will be bolstered while the sexual violence and harassment at the workplace is also covered under this Draft Labour Code that is now aligned with the ILO convention 190 on violence and harassment at the world of work”, remarked Mr. Omar Faruk Osman, the General Secretary of FESTU.
“We are also pleased with other progressive provisions of the Draft Labour Code, for example those that govern the establishment of trade unions and their federations, union organising. We are confident that the Draft Labour Code is responsive to issues relating to employment contracts, labour relations, safety and health, industrial training, wages and remuneration, labour institutions, social dialogue and tripartism”, added Osman.
In meeting with the Prime Minister of Somalia H.E. Hamza Abdi Barre, FESTU General Secretary Omar Faruk Osman thanked the Honourable Prime Minister and the members of the Council of Ministers for doing the right thing and becoming the first ever cabinet that dares to change the outdated law number 65. Trade unions are appealing to the members of the both Houses of the Federal Parliament to expedite the passage of the Draft Labour Code which we have no doubt that the President of the Federal Republic will ascend into law.
Finally, FESTU takes the opportunity to express profound appreciation to ILO for their deep commitment and dedication in supporting the development of the Draft Labour Code of Somalia, with financial and technical resources.