The Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) wishes workers and Somalis in general, a wonderful Independence Day of Somalia, 1 July 2020. This year marks the 60th anniversary of our independence that marks the glorious day when the flag of our republic was hoisted for the very first time. This is an important day in our calendar that we need to commemorate because it reminds us of where we come from and the sacrifices that gave us this independence.
This year, Independence Day, finds us in the midst of a battle against a deadly virus (COVID-19) that has caused considerable damage to our lives and our economy. The restrictions including the curfew imposed has reminded us that our freedom comes with responsibilities. We need to make sure that we act responsibly to help in the fight against this virus without sacrificing our hard-won civil liberties. Somalia has not yet won the battle against COVID-19.
The federation salutes all health workers and other essential service employees for their bravery and dedication in fighting the deadly Covid-19 virus during this difficult time. Across the country, brave and dedicated doctors, nurses, health carers, allied health, social service practitioners and cleaners are facing an extraordinary assignment of taking care of the nation under extreme situations. These heroes and heroines are overworked and under-resourced in our overloaded health facilities.
We salute them and their sector unions for supporting the fight against COVID-19, while also not abandoning the struggle for better wages and improved working conditions.
Our big challenge now is to work hard to change the nature and structure of the country’s economy, so as to improve the lives of the majority for the better. We should, therefore, use this occasion to participate in policy discussions and planning sessions to change the past and build a better future for Somalia. Workers need to influence and support government efforts and programmes that are meant to mobilise resources and reorganise our economy into an inclusive one that benefits the majority.
As workers’ federation, while we acknowledge our hard-won victories in the workplace and right to trade unionism, it is our responsibility to remember that not all of Somali workers are free. In fact, the majority of working women and men still live precarious lives and too many of our people are unemployed and living lives of brute survival. We must make sure that all the draft progressive labour laws that we have agreed with the government and employers are adopted this year.
Our commitment as trade unions going forward should be about contributing to the fight to reduce poverty and unemployment. Somalia needs a functioning social protection system. We are not free when many of our compatriots are struggling to have three meals a day and clothes on their backs, do not have a roof over their heads and remain unemployed.
Happy Independence Day to all Somalis!
Issued by Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU)