A workshop organized by the National Confederation of Eritrean Workers (NCEW), in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO), was held in Asmara from 30 to 31 May 2019 to commemorate the ILO’s centenary and introduce its proposed Agenda for Development in this new Eritrean era.
The rapprochement between Eritrea and Ethiopia has opened doors for many sectors which led the NCEW to seize the opportunity and do its part in giving way and facilitating developments by organizing a workshop under the theme of “future of work”. In line with the initiative’s multi-sectoral approach to the concept of “work” and “national development”, participants from governmental and international organizations attended the meeting. Representatives from the Ministries of Foreign affairs, Labour and Social Welfare, Justice, Education, National Development, Agriculture, Information and Health together with reps from the PFDJ Economic Affairs, Employers Federation of Eritrea (EFE), NCEW, National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW) and National Union of Eritrean youth and students (NUEYS) attended the workshop. The NCEW also had the pleasure of receiving a delegation from the ILO led by Ms Deepa Rishikesh from the ILO Headquarters.
Opening speeches were made by Mr. Berhane Ghebrehiwet from the Employers Federation of Eritrea (EFE), Miss Deepa Rishikesh from the ILO and Mr Woldeyesus Elisa from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. In his address Mr Tekeste Baire, the General Secretary of the NCEW, said the meeting’s objective was to encourage “in-depth discussions on the topic identified by the Global Commission on the Future of Work” and generate “additional enriching ideas”. He further went on to say that “the rationale of the document presented for discussion is not only to assess past experience, but also to generate ideas which render the policies on the Future of Work more effective”. Mr Tekeste emphasized Eritrea’s active role as a member state since its endorsement of the tripartite principles of the labour relations in 1993, despite the countless challenges and obstacles it has faced. He said that owing to the difficulties, the NCEW has learned many lessons and acquired priceless experiences enabling them to lay solid grounds for a brighter future. In conclusion, the General Secretary asked the participants to conduct the proposed discussions with regard to the reality of the state’s conditions and the government’s principle of self-reliance.
Similarly, Mr Berhane Gebrehiwet from the EFE said in his opening speech that the EFE plays an active role in various programs of the ILO and “will play its due role in similar future events, in a better organized and robust way”. He further iterated that this workshop will help in pushing Eritrea forward and ameliorating the Eritrean people’s standard of living. Finally, he highlighted the EFE’s strong commitment to cooperate with NCEW and the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare for the country’s prosperity.
Following the opening speeches, Dr Welday Futur, Head of the Eritrea Investment Centre, gave a presentation on the difficulty of balancing the fulfilment of the desires of the people and the nurture of sustainable growth and advancement under the heading “the future of work in an Increasingly Knowledge Based Economy”. Furthermore, he underlined the importance of prioritizing and developing human resources. Later on, Ms Waffa Abdelkader, an expert in workers’ activities from the ILO, gave a detailed introduction of the global initiative of the “future of work”. She said the Global Commission on the “Future of Work” is founded on three pillars based on a human-centred agenda: increasing investment in people’s capabilities, increasing investment in the institutions of work and increasing investment in decent and sustainable work.
Afterwards, Engineer Getachew Merhatsion gave a broad and detailed account of Eritrea’s National Development Program. He gave examples of projects including the construction of health facilities, schools, roads, railroads and water dams and safe water and energy production. Following presentations by representatives from NCEW and the Ministry of National Development, Mr. Yemane Ghebreab, Head of Political Affairs of PFDJ, furnished the participants with knowledge on the recent developments in regional peace and the new opportunities created for sustainable development.
The two-day workshop ended with group discussions conducted under the theme “Challenges and Opportunities” where participants identified potential obstacles to development and proposed appropriate solutions taking into account the current situation of the country.