The takeover of the radio component of the Africa Labour Media Project by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Africa Office from the South Africa based Workers World Media Productions (WWMP) is expected to boost efforts by trade unions in Africa in their efforts to strengthen the representative organizations in Africa and educate more people on the importance of trade unionism.
This emerged at a workshop organized by the WWMP in Johannesburg recently, March 23-28, 2014 where close to 200 delegates from about 12 countries participated in evaluating the achievements of the projects both across the continent, and official announcement was made of the decision of the ITUC to assume responsibility for the coordination of the project.
“An important positive aspect of this is that it will ensure the political buy-in of the trade union leadership affiliated to ITUC. At times this was lacking previously, causing several weaknesses that slowed down the project’s development,” said Martin Jansen, Director of WWMP.
This related especially to the aspect of funding and show of commitment to the ideals espoused by the Project.
The problem was further compounded by the fact that WWMP somewhat avoided a discriminative approach because it sought to reach out to labour without being limited by issues of recognition or official legitimacy, resulting in federations avoiding ownership on the basis that they shunned sharing platform with rivals.
When asked to explain why WWMP decided to hand over the ALMP radio component to ITUC, Jansen said: “It is not WWMP’s purpose to have projects developed for its own interest but rather to service, support and strengthen the trade union movement. Much work has been done to set up and develop the project and the foundations are reasonably strong for it to grow stronger.”
The ITUC allayed concerns that once it takes over it will adopt a discriminative approach where non ITUC affiliates will find it hard to voice their issues or matters relating to their activities.
┬áServais Akpaca, Communications Officer of the ITUC, posited, “Well, ALMP is a project of several ITUC-Africa affiliates. As such there is no problem for ITUC-Africa inheriting a project from its affiliates.”
He added that the idea behind the take-over is that ITUC-Africa is a bigger family that can bring on board many trade union centres in Africa, and it was against that background that “the General Council of ITUC-Africa has already adopted this project in October 2012.”
Akpaca argued that the cardinal effect of the new arrangement is that they will be able to use the radio project to organise workers in Africa, adding that currently the global workforce is 2.9 billion, while unionised workers represent only 200 million.The unionisation rate in the world is only 7 percent. In Africa, it is much lower, approximately less than 5 per cent.
Therefore project will help use the radio to create a platform for discussing about the benefits of joining a trade union to potential members.
As part of the radio component of the project, previously referred to the Africa Labour Radio Project, country teams under stewardship of the WWMP come up with political and labour oriented issues that impact on trade unions and workers’ everyday life, then interviewed relevant stakeholders for radio content to be broadcast in different countries where normally hourly slots of airtime would have been secured.
The final editing was previously been done in South Africa where WWMP at Head Office whilst with new order the project will now be run from regions coordinated by ┬áLome, Togo, where the ITUC Africa Office is housed.
┬áWWMP is also engaged in empowering workers and marginalized communities to be able embark on robust service delivery campaigns, developing own community newspapers as well through mass education and labour film festivals.
Both Jansen and Akpaca have intimated that a memorandum of understanding is in the process of being signed shortly, outlining specifics.