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TUC supporting trade union struggles against harmful trade deals in Africa and UK 

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UK unions have been excluded from trade talks. As a result they contain no commitment to enforce protections for workers’ rights, promote decent jobs and free quality public services, or address gender inequalities.   

A number of unions in Africa have been in a similar situation and, as a result, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) does not have adequate protections for workers’ rights. 

AfCFTA is an agreement which is focussed on reducing the tariffs countries are allowed to place on other countries’ goods which could undermine domestic industries and good jobs.  

The main agreement was signed in 2018 between 22 African states but talks continue on side agreements. 

There is scope for unions to influence talks on these side agreements and monitor the implementation of the agreement.  In some countries such as Rwanda, official bodies have already been established for this purpose.  

Yet, many trade union centres in Africa lack the capacity to influence trade negotiations or flag concerns about the implementation of the agreement with politicians.   

That is why the TUC’s solidarity organisation TUC Aid and the Trade Union Unit Trust Charitable Trust is starting a project this year to support trade unions in Cameroon to run training for trade unionists on influencing trade talks.   

ITUC Africa will be a project partner and enable trade unions in Cameroon to join a larger project ITUC Africa is running with SASK to build advocacy capacity and campaigning networks amongst unions in Africa on AfCFTA.  Unions already in the project are those in Chad, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tunisia and Senegal. 

Cameroon has been identified by ITUC Africa as a country that would benefit from joining the larger project to ensure Central African trade union participation.   

The TUC Aid and the Trade Union Unit Trust Charitable Trust project will also support campaigning networks on AfCFTA to be developed between unions and Cameroon and unions in the other countries in Africa and the UK.   

TUC Aid’s previous project with trade unions in Kenya and other East African countries helped lead to trade unions being engaged by their governments in trade talks more than unions in the UK. 

TUC Aid and the Trade Union Unit Trust Charitable Trust’s new project will hopefully increase workers' influence over the trade agenda and provide more useful examples trade unions in the UK can draw on to increase workers' involvement in UK trade talks to promote workers’ rights and good jobs. 

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