PUBLISHED ON February 16th, 2015

Call to fully enable common market protocol

EMPLOYERS and the trade union fraternity in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania want the Arusha-based East African Community (EAC) to speedily and fully implement the Common Market Protocol.

The East African Trade Union Confederation (EATUC) and the East African Employers Association (EAEO) are taking the issue a notch higher by calling for the removal of all barriers in a bid to promote free movement of workers in the region.

The trade union body and the workers organisation called upon the East African Legislative Assembly Speaker, Mr Daniel Kidega in Arusha, to make a case for facilitation of freer movement.

The Chairperson of the East African Employers Association and Executive Director of the Federation of Uganda Employers, Ms Rosemary Ssenabulya, led the delegation.

The Chairperson of the East African Trade Union Confederation, Mr Francis Atwoli, was represented by Mr Wafula Wa Musamia, a Member of the Governing Council of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) and General Secretary of the Kenya Quarry and Mine Workers Union.

Also in attendance was the Executive Director of the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE), Dr Aggrey Mlimuka and senior officials of EATUC as well as the Chair of EALA’s Legal Rules and Privileges Committee, Mr Peter Mathuki and Mr Bernard Mulengani.

In his remarks, the Speaker of EALA stated that the hopes of the citizens of the region can and will be fulfilled by the full implementation of the Common Market.

“A lot was expected following the entry of the Common Market Protocol in July 2010. While the intentions are noble and good, the outcome in terms of implementation has not lived up to our expectations.”

“More could have been done in terms of the provisions of the free movement of persons, labour, goods, services and capital. We are hoping as an Assembly that the Protocol shall be fully enforced,” Kidega said.

The Speaker urged the EATUC and EAEO to consider petitioning the Assembly over the matter, promising that EALA will seek to address the issue.

He pledged EALA’s support to the workers and promised to take collaboration with both organisations a notch higher in the short term and the long term.

On work permits, the Speaker remarked that some of the partner States had entered into bilateral arrangements to reduce the existing permit fees and rooted for harmonisation on the part of all partner States. “There is need to ensure consensus across the board,” he added.

Ms Ssenabuluya noted that employers in the region welcomed the integration process as it promote factors of production and enables free movement across the Common Market and this was an impetus for economic growth and job creation in the region.

“Given the importance of free movement of labour, EATUC and EAEO have embarked on a process to provide joint recommendations to the governments of the EAC Partner States in order to speed up this process for the people of East Africa to feel the direct benefits of regional integration, while respecting the need for a time frame with adequate transitional mechanisms,” the EAEO Chair noted.

In his remarks, the General Secretary of the Kenya Quarry and Mine Workers Union, Mr Wafula-Wa-Musamia, lamented that barriers to goods and free movement were hindering growth of the region.

He remarked that mobility of workers led to reallocation of competences across sectors thus promoting co-operation. He challenged partner States to consider the abolition of work permits all together in the spirit of fostering integration.

Wa-Musamia noted that partner States were content to holding on to the issue of permits as a revenue collection base. “There are important benefits to be reaped by increasing labour mobility and if anything, we should have work permits retained if and only it would boost data collection and not necessarily just as a revenue collection base,” he added.

The Executive Director of ATE, Dr Mlimuka, called for sustained effort in enhancing social dialogue and said it was important for workers, employers and regional legislators to meet more frequently.

“In this regard, the idea of having a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the concerned parties (EATUC, EAEO and EALA) is more than welcome,” he said.

Mr Peter Mathuki stated that the workers and employers of the region formed a solid bloc in strengthening the implementation process.

“The stakeholders here today were fully involved in long hours of deliberations and discussions during negotiations for the Common Market Protocol.”

“We need to work more closely with them and to monitor the process as interested parties,” Hon. Mathuki stated.

Source: Daily News

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