Southern Africa: Unions seek greater involvement in OHS monitoring and inspection

BWI’s affiliated construction unions in Southern Africa recently held a trainers' training on labour inspections among trade unionists from Mauritius (CMWEU), Mozambique (SINTICIM), Namibia (MANWU), South Africa (BCAWU and NUM), Zambia (NUBEGW) and Zimbabwe (CLAWUZ and ZCATWU). The training aimed to create greater union involvement in the monitoring and inspection of worksites and develop new indices to counter-check the usual occupational health and safety (OHS) descriptors of companies.  

The training was organised after BWI launched its COVID-19 Declaration with the theme "Organising for Resilience in a Time of Adversity." One of the declaration’s key points called on all stakeholders to make work safer by prioritising occupational safety and health. This required BWI-affiliated trade unions to capacitate further their OHS knowledge and skills to respond to new challenges, particularly those imposed by the pandemic. 

BWI Africa and Middle East Regional Representative Crecentia Mofokeng acknowledged the need for trade unions to priorities OHS issues, especially in collective bargaining negotiations. She encouraged BWI affiliates in the region to continue strengthening  their capacities on worksite monitoring and inspections, and to develop new OHS guidelines that are truly responsive to COVID-19. 

“OHS is an area concerned with the development, promotion, and maintenance of the workplace environment, policies and programs that ensure the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of employees, as well as keeping the workplace environment relatively free from actual or potential hazards. By prioritizing OHS, workers will have less chances of being involved in work-related accidents,” Mofokeng said.

This was echoed by BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. “There is need for good practices and innovations on how construction workers can promote further occupational health and safety and the need for trade unions to intensify their engagements with governments and employers in developing better policies to secure workers’ health and Safety, income and employment,” he said.