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Unions look ahead at West Africa road transport seminars

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Seminar participants talking to truck drivers in Cotonou, Benin.

Seminar participants talking to truck drivers in Cotonou, Benin.

Road transport workers from across West Africa recently came together in Cotonou, Benin to discuss common challenges and develop a strategy for change.

From 8-10 April the first implementation seminar for the ITF/SASK road transport corridors project for 2013-2015 brought together representatives from road transport unions in the five participating countries: Niger, Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire. The project aims to strengthen the bargaining and organising capacity of road transport unions along the main West African transport corridors. Participants also took part in a study visit to a bus/taxi park and a truck park in the city to talk to drivers about their issues and the role of the union, and met local union representatives.

On 11 and 12 April, road transport unions from 12 countries in the sub-region came together in a seminar to develop a ‘global’ strategy for West Africa, including support for the SASK project. The 36 participants discussed strategies and tools to address challenges faced by road transport workers at national and sub-regional levels, including dialogue with governments and sub-regional institutions such as the ECOWAS, to improve working and living conditions of road transport workers and to press for the free movement of persons and goods in the sub-region.

The seminar adopted a press statement and established a 12-member ITF West African sub-regional road transport committee, chaired by Emmanuel Agbenou from FESYTRAT in Togo.

ITF Africa Francophone coordinator Bayla Sow commented: “Road transport workers in West Africa face many challenges – such as the lack of regulation of working conditions, the multiplicity of checkpoints, harassment, attacks by police, the ill-treatment and sexual harassment of women, precarious jobs, high fuel prices, lack of facilities and poor road conditions. It is important that unions across the sub-region work together to tackle these problems and these seminars will go a long way towards that goal.”

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