GFL-ITUC Africa holds a forum on the African Union Protocol on Social Protection

By Laudia Sawer

Tema, Dec. 15, GNA – The Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL), in collaboration with the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), has held a day’s forum on the African Union Protocol on Social Protection.

Dr. Ghislaine Saizonou épsouse Broohm, the Coordinator of the Social Protection and Equality Programme, ITUC-Africa, said the forum served as a platform for awareness creation on the protocol.

Dr. Broohm said it was important to promote the protocol as it was clear that each citizen needed to get access to social protection and equity, hence the need to ensure that unions were well informed on it to serve as advocates.

She said unions must collaborate with other stakeholders, such as civil society organisations, to advocate governments to sign and ratify the protocol, which has all the needed provisions to protect citizens.

She added that the current executive of the ITUC-Africa has social protection as its key pillar, and therefore, starting with Ghana, it would be rolling out a series of fora in member countries across Africa on the Protocol.

Mr. Auberon Jeleel Odoom, the Executive Director of Inclusive Ghana, stated in a presentation on the Protocol on Social Protection and Social Security that the Protocol was a component of the African Union Agenda 2063, which was the blueprint to develop Africa into a powerhouse of the future.

Mr. Odoom said the AU Social Agenda was adopted in January 2020, while the Protocol on Social Protection and Social Security was also adopted in February 2022.

He indicated that the Protocol was peculiar to the issues in Africa and therefore countries must ratify it for implementation, adding regrettably that currently only Niger and São Tomé and Principe have signed it.

“It is something we must have to protect everyone, both the young and old, but our governments are not doing it; we must ensure that they sign and ratify it to benefit everyone; social protection is a human right for all,” he added.

He said the Protocol was formulated and adopted because it was realised that there was the absence of social protection measures in African countries, the availability of ad hoc measures, and the inability of citizens to be provided with social protection as a right.

Other reasons for the Protocol, he noted, have to do with the non-alignment of most social protection measures with regional and international legal frameworks and instruments.

Mr. Odoom said it would also serve as a guide for countries as they develop their social protection systems, adding that lessons from COVID-19 also necessitated it.

He said the Protocol contained 39 articles that covered social insurance, unemployment and underemployment, family, women and girls, cross-border migrants and internally displaced persons, older persons, children, adolescents, and youth.

Others are persons with disabilities, maternity and paternity, healthcare, protection, and sickness benefits; occupational health; safety and employment injury; education; death and survival benefits; food and nutrition; water; sanitation and hygiene; as well as housing; and climate change, among others.

Mr. Caleb Nartey, the President of the GFL, and Mr. Abraham Koomson, the Secretary General of the GFL, called for the implementation of social protection laws and instruments to ensure that people’s rights were respected.

They noted that there was a need to push governments to stop taking citizens for granted and politicising such social protection issues, but rather do well to provide for their needs.

They said unions must arise and bring themselves together to be able to fight on behalf of not only their members but the people as a whole.