‘HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR IMPROVED HIV AND AIDS WORKPLACE LAWS AND POLICIES’ICASA 2011Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Yahya Msangi ITUC Africa Lome, Togo
FACTS A workplace is a complex place. It is not only a place where people sale labour in return for wages. The complex nature of a workplace: • Power relations: Workers and their Unions Vs Employers and their Associations executed via dismissals, retrenchments, strikes, etc. • The tripartite modus of operandi i.e. The Labour Holy Trinity. • Different and most often opposing interests. i.e. The historical demand for higher and higher wages Vs the desire for more and more profit. • Vulnerable groups: not only women and children but also migrant workers, temporary or contract workers, workers in sub contracted companies, family members, etc. All need to be included. • Education levels: majority less educated but do not forget there are some who are highly educated may be better than you. Do not impose your views ! • Power relations: relationships are common in a workplace – blood relations (even between employers and workers), love relations, solidarity supports, etc. Be careful who you talk to!
FACTS cont’d • Specific legislations supported by international accepted standards – e.g. OSHE, CBAs, ELRActs, etc. Specific courts in some countries they are part of High Courts. • High degree of harm that workplace discrimination or stigmatization can bring - financially, socially and psychologically. • Influence of a workplace on surrounding communities, immediate and extended families – looked upon as peers, in the society CSR by companies, financial support by workers/bread winners, etc.
FACTS cont’d • Existence of many other health (occupational safety and health) problems some directly or indirectly linked to HIV and AIDS. Examples: the link to immuno - suppressant chemical substances in workplace chemical products, home products e.g. Cosmetic products, tinned foodor drinks, children toys, etc. Poor work organization is another example e.g. Isolated workstations, work stations with poor sex ratios particularly night shifts. Other examples include provision of food (regularity, quality and quantity), resting period, health services including health insurance, transport to and from work, etc. What is the link between HIV and AIDS and other crisis e.g. Climate change, Food Crisis and Financial crisis? • Priority: increase in wages, social protection and better working conditions. Program ignoring this fact is doomed to failure. • Trust: majority of workers trust their self and democratically elected leaders. A program that sidelines these leaders is also heading for trouble.
MAKING USE OF R 200 TO IMPROVE LEGISLATIONS, POLICIES AND CBAs • Recommendation 200 and ILO Code of Practice: You must be a firm believer of this instrument. It may be not comprehensive according to your perception, but always remember it is a consensus instrument agreed upon by the 3 key workplace partners i.e. Workers, Governments, and Employers. The 3 partners have put into place a mechanism for reporting progress. Reopening the negotiations at this juncture and outside the tripartite mechanism will be counterproductive. • Use the recommendation to lobby for review of workplace policies and legislations. ITUC Africa has facilitated National Unions to organize national tripartite workshops where existing national labour legislations were interrogated to identify gaps. We have also supported national meetings between Trade Unions and Parliamentary Committees responsible for HIV and AIDS in 6 countries. • Legalize the Recommendation through CBAs: no need to wait submission to national parliaments. CBAs have legal powers. Work with TUs ! • Operationalize the Recommendation: use workplace policies or codes of practice to make it work.
CONCLUSION • A good lobbying strategy is therefore the one which takes into account the complex nature of a workplace. • Recommendation 200 provides a good opportunity for unions and others to improve national legislations and policies and also workplace CBAs and Policies. Important: Even when governments contravene legally binding ILO Conventions, the ILO does not institute physical punishment e.g. Trade sanctions, jail terms, etc. There are 2 types of punishments i.e. Physical or Mental both of which work very well depending on circumstances. Usually, states do not want to be listed as behaving contrary to internationally acceptable norms of which they are party to. This kind of ‘punishment’ applies to both Conventions and Recommendations!