OTUWA was founded in 1983 in Conakry, Guinea, the Organisation of Trade Unions of West Africa (OTUWA), made up of national labour centres from West African countries, started brilliantly and functioned optimally during the first decade of its existence, with the secretariat being hosted at intervals country by country.
Against the backdrop of its activities in the early years of formation which were deemed to be critical to the socio-economic and political integration processes in the sub-region, the Council of Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1986 ratified a decision that granted OTUWArecognition within ECOWAS structures.
Upon relocation of the secretariat of OTUWA to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, a combination of factors – the then Ivorian civil war, the sudden death of the Secretary General of OTUWA and the subsequent lack of institutional capacity at the Secretariat – made it to become dormant.
However, in 2014, OATUU and ITUC-Africa, with the active support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), decided to work together to revive OTUWA, so as to enhance the role of trade unions in the regional integration process, particularly in the context of the ECOWAS Treaty which recognises the role of trade unions in the integration process and which granted OTUWA a category A consultative status within ECOWAS.
It was the outcome of this decision that the congress to re-launch OTUWA was held in Abuja in October 2015 where new officers of the organisation were elected, and an Executive Secretary was subsequently appointed.
Objectives of OTUWA
In the overall context of the above and in consonance with prevailing socio-economic and political developments therefore, the objectives of OTUWA include the following:
- Bring the voice and visibility of West African workers to ECOWAS and other International labour platforms;
- Highlight labour-related problems in the West African sub-region and focus national labour centres’ attention on these issues as a means of addressing them;
- Facilitate trade union unity and engagement of national unions in popularising worker-related issues and policies contained in ECOWAS protocols and policies geared towards promoting the integration process.
- To work towards full, decent and freely chosen employment and the elimination of all forms of discrimination based on race, sex, nationality or creed.
- To fight for the improvement of working and living conditions including the extension and sustenance of social security coverage to everyone.
- To promote greater gender equality
- To promote the ratification and effective implementation of International Labour Standards.