The Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU) expressed concern Wednesday over a draft law intended to amend the existing labor proclamation.
In an exclusive interview with The Reporter, CETU President Kasahun Follo said the draft law recently presented to the Council of Ministers was drastically different to the one agreed upon earlier by stakeholders. Accordingly, the council returned the draft bill for further discussion and input by relevant stakeholders.
The draft bill was supposed to incorporate provisions that have not been included in any of the labor laws enacted in the past. However, a conflict of interest was in evidence between efforts aimed at protecting the rights of local labor vis-à-vis government drive to lure foreign investors.
Whereas Kassahun welcomed the decision by the Council of Ministers to reject the draft bill, he expressed concern that the bill would fail labor by continuing to succumb to the whims of authorities and employers.
He further indicated that the confederation has already singled out eight proposed provisions about which it has strong reservations.
“We have already given heads up to both the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) as well as the Council of Ministers about our reservations,” he said without going into details, but pointed out that the issue would be taken up at CETU’s general assembly.
In related news, Kassahun indicated that employers are against the formation of labor unions, to the detriment of workers’ rights and safety.
He also indicated that the federation will soon discuss with at least 5,000 of the 8,000 member unions to appeal to the government on the provisions to be included in the draft bill.
Ethiopia’s first labor law governing collective bargaining was issued in 1963. That law, which contained modest recognition of labor rights, was revised in 1975, incorporating the tenets of socialism.
By Yonas Abiye