The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has decried the laxity by ministries of labour in African countries to implement laws on labour which is hindering both workers’ improved welfare and productivity of many industries.
The remarks were made by Mohammed Mwamadzingo, the Regional Desk officer for Africa at the International Labour Organisation, during an ongoing training workshop for trade union leaders in Kigali.
Mwamadzingo said most of the labour ministries are underfunded, understaffed and overstretched that most employers take the advantage of this situation to exploit their workers.
“We have good laws in most of the African countries but weak governance issues have led to the exploitation of workers in most countries,” he said.
The training that opened on Monday was organised by ILO and Japan Trade Union Congress (JTUC).
It is aimed at drawing trade unions input in the region in national efforts for improving productivity and competitiveness, creating more employment opportunities and enhanced mechanisms for social dialogue and collective bargaining.
Underling the role of workers in national development, Mwamadzingo cited Japan’s vibrant economy, which he attributed to the country’s labour movement.
He said much as they may be ordinary workers, engineers, managers, and trade union members, they are key to the success or otherwise of the enterprise.
Worker output can be increased by developing a quality of life concept and through tailoring benefits to meet the needs of employees, he said.
Mwamadzingo said there are mechanisms to help improve workers’ welfare and, in this spirit, workers in East Africa are preparing an employment policy which they want thier governments to sign.
The policy covers productivity, social security, health and safety.
Judith Uwizeye, the Minister for Public Service and Labour, said the culture of creating an enabling environment for conflict resolution and prevention is a cornerstone for high productivity and fulfilment of labour rights.
“Trade unions should be equipped with capacities to organise well the labour force and help to explore fully its potential for own and collective development,” she said.
Eric Manzi, the secretary general of Central Trade Union of Workers of Rwanda (Cestrar), said the training offered a platform to share experience and would help improve productivity.
“We can’t ask for a wage increase with low production so we need to improve productivity but also the wellbeing of workers,” he said.
The issue of productivity improvement has increasingly become an important aspect with globalisation and emergence of economic reforms.
This is more so due to the increased competitiveness of enterprises in both the domestic and international markets.
Trade unions enhance the role of sharing the gains from productivity improvement through increased employment opportunities, better wages and enhanced collective bargaining power as well as social dialogue.