Somali Workers Send Powerful Message

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Somali workers under the aegis of the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU), on Sunday, issued a strong message that the decimation of workplaces particularly in the informal economy, retrenchments, wage cuts and various labour violations have led to the incapacitation of workers and an exploitative labour culture.

Speaking on the occasion of the International Labour Day, which is popularly known as May Day, FESTU General Secretary Omar Faruk Osman explained that “despite the essential role that workers play in our society, their contributions, human rights and security are nowhere near guaranteed. On this day, we amplify our demands as trade unions. We tell government officials and employers that the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) will continue to fight the struggles of the working people.”

He added that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be far-reaching. “It seeped into our workplaces, homes and lives, affecting how we earn, relate to each other and mourn our loved ones. Workers undoubtedly felt the brunt of this, losing income, jobs and in many cases, being exploited and unprotected by unscrupulous employers”.

“We are fortified by some of our successes in the area of workers’ rights such as the successful litigation of employers for violating workers’ rights up to and including our case in the Supreme Court. But we won’t rest – achieving a judgement is only the first step, enforcing the court orders is still a major challenge as without this, change cannot be actualised and enjoyed” he announced.

The Apex labour body vowed to intensify its work and demands for the fundamental rights such as freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of association, media freedom, right to life, right to liberty and security of persons, among many others.

“We are mobilising workers, whether organised or not, to fight the good fight for the sake of advancing social justice agenda” emphasised the labour leader who asserted that “it is only the collective power of a united active citizenry, a power used peacefully, consistently and persistently that will stand against the multifaceted forms of injustices in this country”.

FESTU demanded the swift enactment of revised labour law, realisation of decent work agenda, an end to slave wages and the restoration of the wage value.