By Lamin B. Darboe | for Daily Observer,
The Secretary General of the Gambia Labour Congress recently returned from Asmara, Eritrea, where he attended a three-day International Solidarity Conference at the invitation of the National Conference of Eritrea Workers and International Trade Union Congress (ITUC).
Speaking to the Daily Observer shortly after returning to Banjul, Kebba Masanneh Cessay said the conference brought together 17 trade union organisations including representatives from India, UK, Germany, Turkey and Switzerland. He said diplomats from South Africa, China, Sudan, South Sudan and the European Union graced the occasion, and that the conference availed participants the opportunity to make a conducted tour of the ZaEr Textile Factory in Asmara and the Bisha Mine.
The conference, Ceesay went on, discussed issues of practical realities to trade union solidarity and unity, as well as ways and means of deepening the advancement, defense/protection and promotion of human and workers’ rights.
He said they also looked into achieving a practical commitment to end forced labour in Africa, by effectively implementing Decent Work Agenda, adding that the goal of the conference was to support a resilient spirit of the Eritrea Workers and Trade Union rights in their pursuit to advance the rights of all.
“The welcome address was delivered by the Secretary General of the National Conference of Eritrea Workers’ Union, Teskete Baire, while both the Secretary General of the ITUC Africa, Kwasi Adu Amankwah and his deputy, Wellington Chibebe, delivered a solidarity speech,” Ceesay told the Daily Observer.
Declaring the conference opened, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, Ousman Saleh, highlighted the challenges of the Eritrean citizens in their reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts from the 30 years of liberation struggle (1998-2000) war with Ethiopia.
Minister Saleh urged the conference participants to move away from mere lamentation of Africa’s development crisis to practical steps and imaginative workers’ responses through action, policy and programmes.
According to Ceesay, the conference delegates committed their strong desire for all workers with renewed focus to workers in the informal economy, domestic and migrant workers while accelerating the involvement of women and young workers through sectoral, national and regional mergers with a view of building formidable workers’ and Trade Union Power.
“The conference refuses to bow or be instilled with fear and panic as intended by the rising global terrorism and it also pledged to support our Governments and progressive organisations in the struggle to defeat intolerance and extremism as well as to end civil conflict in Africa,” Ceesay added.
He indicated that the conference participants reiterated their support to the Eritrea Government in its efforts to strengthen the implementation of National Service Scheme in terms of demobilization into the Government system.
The conference participants, according to Ceesay, called on all and sundry, especially Ethiopia, to honour the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia boarder commission and call on international institutions to work closely with the NCEW in order to bring about the end of the UN sanctions imposed on Eritrea.
Ceesay is also the Chairman of the Trade Union Committee set up to bring about reforms within the context of new era of Trade Unionism in The Gambia.