Discussing sustainability beyond project assistance, and importance of social dialogue in dealing with Chinese MNCs

BWI affiliate Ethiopia Industrial Federation of Construction & Wood (EIFCWMC) successfully mainstreamed and integrated HIV and AIDS issues into trade union work and managed to set up HIV/AIDS fund at some workplaces. Twenty two participants at a two days workshop from 29th February to 1st March, 2016 in Desalegn Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, shared experience on how different work places have embraced the culture of dealing with HIV/AIDS.

Industri Energi in collaboration with BWI has funded the project on scaling up HIV and AIDS Policies in Workplaces in BWI Sectors in Ethiopia for the last seven years. This project has seen the union increase in membership though massive recruitment; creative campaigns during the mass public events like the Ethiopia great run which is an annual event that attracts huge number of people. Through these campaigns the union has used the opportunity to create awareness on HIV/AIDS within the community and the public at large. Some of the media that the union has used are T-shirts, banners, flyers and caps in passing the message on HIV/AIDS the community in fighting stigma and discrimination. Through negotiations and lobbying the union managed to have HIV/AIDS funds at various basic unions/ workplaces, this fund has seen HIV/AIDS infected workers benefit through provision of VCT services, ARVs and other support and care services. A good example is Kaliti Metal Products Factory where the infected benefit by having two annual leaves per year and even the care and support being extended to the family. In this enterprise the employer contributes ETB 30,000.00 per year towards the kitty while the employees contribute ETB 2 – 20 monthly without coercion. In addition to this, National Cement Share Company also has HIV/AIDS programme that provide counselling services, awareness creation, condom distribution and peer education.

The project vision is to see that the union move forward through self sustainability by having the HIV/AIDS fund in all the work places.

On social dialogue through tripartite meeting with main focus on Chinese MNCs involved the government represented by Director of Labour Services Mr Messfen Yelma from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Trade Union Confederation Head of Training and Education Mr. Tessema Heramo and Employers Association Project Manager Mr. Saud Mohamud. BWI was the moderator as explained the strategy in dealing with Chinese MNCs formulated in December 2015. The assertion of the government and the Employers federation is that Convention 87 and 98 have been ratified by the country and the MNCs need to respect the law, however through working with the Confederation they look towards changing the attitude of the employers as. The challenge of the labour ministry is fewer labour inspectors. In addition the Ethiopian government gives top priority to the construction sector which has grown by 23% annually with 83 500 employees. Through its initiative together with the trade union OHS policies and strategies have been developed specifically for the construction sector.

In conclusion, the project objectives have been achieved and the results and good practices to be replicated in all other workplaces, HIV/AIDS committees have been formed to foresee the establishment of HIV/AIDS funds in various work places which shows the independence of the workers in spear heading the project objectives.

The meeting brought together 22 participants. Among these participants Ole-Kristian Paulsen from Industri Energi International Advisor, Garikanai Shoko Project Coordinator, Kivale Said East Africa Project Coordinator, Director of Labour Services Mr Messfen Yelma from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Trade Union Confederation Head of Training and Education Mr. Tessema Heramo and Employers Association Project Manager Mr. Saud Mohamud and officials of EIFCMWCOTU led by the federation’s president Brother Zegeye Haile Selassie.