ILO supports ECOWAS commission to develop a sub-regional decent work program

ILO is working with the Economic Community of West African States Commission to develop its first Decent Work Program for West Africa. During a two-day workshop in Abuja, Commission officials discuss strategies and identify priority areas.

Press release | 27 September 2017
Abuja (ILO News): International Labour Organization (ILO) at the request of the ECOWAS Commission is providing support for the development of a Sub-Regional Decent Work Programme (SRDWP) for the ECOWAS Region.

ECOWAS Commission in partnership with ILO initiated SRDWP development process with a Diagnostic Study to underpin the formulation and implementation of Decent Work and to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment for all. Several Departments of the ECOWAS, member states and relevant stakeholders contributed to the Diagnostic Study which revealed the decent work deficits in the region and highlighted areas needing intervention in the world of work. The process continues with a two-day technical review and validation workshop of the diagnostic report which commenced at the ECOWAS Commission on the 26th of September 2017.

The workshop organized by the ECOWAS Directorate of Humanitarian and Social Affairs with ILO support, provided an opportunity to identify decent work priorities and enhance the capacity of the staff of the relevant ECOWAS Directorates and Institutions to provide improved technical support and coordinate Member States on SRDWP in aid of their development impact.

Mr. Aly Cisse who represented the ILO Abuja Country Director and Liaison officer for ECOWAS Mr. Dennis Zulu in his remarks stated that the ILO Decent Work Programmes (DWPs) were established as the main vehicle for delivery of ILO support to countries and regions; to promote decent work as a key component of national development strategies and organize ILO knowledge, instruments, advocacy and cooperation at the service of tripartite constituents. He noted the importance of political will in the achievement of the Decent Work Agenda. “ILO Decent Work Agenda is indeed a great agenda, which can only be realized through strong political commitment and concerted action by national or regional governments, the social partners (the representatives of employers and workers), civil society and with support from the international community” he said.

Furthermore, he elaborated on the concept of Decent Work, it “encompasses opportunities for employment that is productive and delivers a fair income, it involves security in the workplace and social protection for families, respect for rights in the workplace, freedom to organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives. It also covers equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men” he said. He concluded by emphasizing the importance of the workshop in identifying the priorities and results that would feed into the SRDWP in order to address the major challenges identified by the diagnostic report.

Declaring the Workshop open after welcoming participants on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, the ECOWAS Director, Humanitarian and Social Affairs Mrs Florence Iheme urged participants to fully participate in identifying the deficit and priorities of the proposed SRDWP as the meeting’s output is expected to facilitate policies and interventions to better integrate decent work within the region. She stated that the promotion of employment, improvement of labour market and mobility of skills have become major concerns within the framework of the implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol of Free Movement of Persons in the three stages of entry, residence and establishment as reaffirmed by the ECOWAS labour and Employment Policy (2009) as well as its Youth Employment Action Plan (2012). Mrs. Iheme highlighted the important role which employment plays in the integration of the region, and the ILO’s partnership with ECOWAS to ensure that the decent work agenda is implemented.

The opening remarks of the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender Dr. Fatimata Dia Sow delivered by the ECOWAS Commission’s Head, Social Affairs Dr. Alves d’Almada Fernando Jorge, noted that despite the progress made in the implementation of the ECOWAS Labour and Employment Policy, the identified key challenges to the realization of decent work in the ECOWAS space now require urgent attention.

In addition to reviewing the findings of the diagnostic study, the Workshop also identified three priority areas based on findings of the study on the SRDWP; i.Promoting Employment Opportunities; ii. Extending Social Protection Coverage; iii. Effective Implementation of International Labour Standards. The workshop also provided an opportunity to build the capacity of ECOWAS staff on Results Based Management for the Decent Work Programme within the ECOWAS region.