The Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) warmly welcomes the decision made by Somalia’s Council of Ministers, who, during their weekly regular meeting held on 18 January 2024, granted their seal of approval to the National Policy on Occupational Safety and Health, representing a significant leap forward in fortifying the safety and well-being of Somalia’s dedicated workforce.
The process of developing this national policy began in 2019 and was characterized by a collaborative tripartite approach, which involved the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, trade unions, and employers, all working together in the spirit of social dialogue. This entire process received crucial technical guidance and support from the International Labour Organization (ILO).
FESTU played a crucial role in this intricate process, fervently representing the concerns and interests of Somalia’s working men and women, who are the primary beneficiaries of the policy. The federation’s contributions, which encompassed vital amendments, new additions, and clarifications, imbued authenticity into the draft national policy, rendering it a genuine reflection of the current challenges faced by our workforce.”
Occupational safety and health issues have persistently plagued Somali workers, subjecting them to various workplace hazards and ever-increasing daily challenges. These hazards encompass unsafe working conditions, insufficient safety measures and a lamentable lack of awareness and training. The approval of the National Policy on Occupational Safety and Health represents a watershed moment, acknowledging these dire challenges and signifying the collective commitment of the government, trade unions and employers to address them through constructive social dialogue.
FESTU General Secretary, Omar Faruk Osman, stated, “Somalia’s workers have waited far too long for this moment. The approval of the National Policy on Occupational Safety and Health is a resounding declaration that their lives and health matter. It’s a new dawn for labour rights in our country and we are determined to make every workplace safe and secure.”
He further emphasized, “The National Policy on Occupational Safety and Health is a testament to our collective dedication to ensuring that no worker’s life is put at risk due to unsafe conditions. We’ve fought for this and now we must ensure that this policy translates into tangible improvements for the workers.”
Furthermore, the National Policy on Occupational Safety and Health aligns with International Labour Standards (ILS) as it domesticates key International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on the subject, namely the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155) and the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187), which Somalia ratified in 2021, along with five others. These two conventions were designated as fundamental conventions during the June 2022 International Labour Conference, underscoring the vital importance of occupational safety and health as a fundamental principle and right at work.
FESTU eagerly anticipates collaborating closely with the government, employers and other stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of the National Policy on Occupational Safety and Health as this marks a critical shift towards creating safer and healthier workplaces for all Somali workers.