By Funmi Komolafe
GENEVAâ€”Governments have been warned to steer clear of recommendations of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) in their bid to find solutions to the current global financial meltdown.
The Executive Secretary of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity ( OATUU), Alhaji Hassan Sunmonu, gave the warning while addressing the 99th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
He told the delegates including those of developed economies such as America, Japan, Britain, China that â€œGovernments which have now started to adopt IMF/World Bank style neo-liberal Structural Adjustment Programmes as a response to the present financial and economic crisis are warned not to repeat Africa`sÂ sad experience of 1980-2000.”
Sunmonu asked rehtorically, â€œLetÂ me ask governments this simple question.Â On whose side are they? On the side of their peoples, or on the side of the manipulators of the market? If they are not on the side of their people, they willÂ be sorryÂ for itâ€.
He added, â€œOn the present financial and economic crisis, I would like to give some advice to the governments.This advice is borne out of the experience of African countries in the implementation of IMF/World Bank`s neo-liberalÂ Structural Adjustment Programmes from 1980-2000â€.
The formerÂ president of the Nigeria Labour CongressÂ recalled that the IMF/World Bankâ€™s Structural Adjustment Programme which included, â€œ massive retrenchementÂ of workers in the public sector, withdrawal of subsidies on food, housing, health, education, transport etc, high interest rates, financial deregulation and trade liberalisationâ€ impoverised Africa.
TheÂ consequence of this programme, he said, was â€œthe destruction of most of the industries established since independence, causing what development economists call ‘de-industrialisation’ in Africa, massive debts and debts servicingâ€.
He also listed â€œmassive increase in poverty, political and social instability, weakening of the public services and high increase in corruption, destruction of the education and health infrastructure â€œas some of the negativeÂ end-products of the IMF/ World Bank structural adjustment programme.
Nigeria was one of the African countries that adopted the Structural Adjustment Programme in the 1980s.
Speaking on OATUU and the ILO, Sunmonu said, â€œ Our organisation will continue to ask for the support of the ILO to build the capacity of our membersÂ in Employment- Creation; Implementation of OATUU Gender Commissionâ€™sÂ Programmes, Elaboration of Macro-economic policies, Implementation of the new HIV/ AIDS instruments; StrengtheningÂ of Social Dialogue; Strengthening of Capacitz of Worker- Representatives on Social Securiy Boards, etcâ€.
Alhaji Sunmonu said OATUU inÂ intends to continue with the ILO on issues such as â€œ Defence of Trade Union and other Human Rights, the creation of tripartite structures within the Regional Economic Communities and implementation of Decent Work Country and Regiional Programmes and other relevant programmesâ€.