Social protection can play an important role in building peaceful society in Somalia while contributing to sustainable development and poverty eradication, according to participants of a seminar jointly conducted by the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU), the Swedish Trade Unions Confederation (LO) and the African Regional Organisation of International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC-Africa) in partnership with Olof Palm International Centre. The seminar, which was held on 19-21 May 2017 was hosted by Rwandan National Trade Unions Centre, Centrale des syndicats des travailleurs du Rwanda (CESTRAR).
The trade union seminar for promoting and building social protection in Somalia, which was attended by 15 trade union leaders and activists from 12 unions affiliated with FESTU, was designed to inform workers’ representatives on issues related to social protection so they can play an active role in national and regional discussions related to building national social protection floors, and institution of a more comprehensive social security systems.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has provided significant technical expertise at the 3-day seminar that empowered and enabled workers’ representatives to define the role of trade unions in exploring, designing and implementing policies, strategies and schemes that will contribute to the government’s effort of providing social protection floors including universal health care, basic income security for children and families, basic income security for women and men of working age unable to earn sufficient income and old age pensions.
“As the country re-establishes, workers need comprehensive, inclusive, and responsive national social protection strategy with well-developed set of social protection programs to address pockets of extreme poverty or vulnerability of workers within the country. We are convinced that the economy cannot grow without social support,” said Omar Faruk Osman, FESTU General Secretary.
Workers’ representatives attending this seminar stressed on the right to social protection for all Somali citizens as a duty of the State and explicitly called upon the federal government to formulate policies and programmes that are key to basic social services and informed by the tenets of the ILO Recommendation 202.
“We understand the government has less capacity to collect taxes, implement complex programmes of social protection or correct market failures, due to its low levels of income and infrastructure. However, due to pervasive poverty there is an urgent need to provide some measure of social protection to address the plight of citizens” added Osman.