National Confederation of Eritrean Workers to Capitalize on Emerging Development Opportunities
by Kesete Ghebrehiwet
Workers are vanguards of development. A skilled labor force is the vehicle for any economic progress. Eritrean workers are key drivers behind many of the developments being registered in the country. The National Confederation of Eritrean Workers (NCEW) has a close connection with workers.
It is now required to play a decisive role in mobilizing, training, and upgrading the skills and capacity of workers so as to allow the labor force to drive socio-economic and industrial revitalization and growth.
The NCEW has been training workers from various institutions in its training center in Massawa. However, now a new era of mutual cooperation is emerging in the Horn of Africa. Countries in this region are keen to strengthen their ties and cooperate in various socio-economic sectors. The role that the NCEW is expected to play is of paramount importance for the speedy implementation of development programs at the national and regional levels. The Central Committee of the NCEW recently conducted its second regular meeting. The meeting featured extensive discussions on a range of topics, including regional developments, job creation, productivity, recent and general trends, and the role of the NCEW in the new era of peace that is emerging in the Horn of Africa.
During the regular meeting, the accomplishments registered by the NCEW during 2017/18 were highlighted, while a work plan for the upcoming year was also presented.
Equitable access to and distribution of social services in all areas of Eritrea is one of the aims of the government. Notably, this can only be achieved through the development of human resources. As well, the preservation of cultural assets and upgrading soft power are pivotal to achieving such a grand goal. The role of NCEW, as a pillar of the Eritrean work force, is significant in the achievement of the envisaged goals of economic progress. The production of high-quality goods and organic agro-industrial products, and the nurturing of a well-trained and qualified work force, are a timely requirement. Meeting international standards will make Eritrean products more competitive in the regional and global market.
Present at the meeting, Yemane Ghebreab, Head of political affairs at the PFDJ, expressed the government’s commitment to support the NCEW in its efforts to develop the Eritrean labor force. He also noted that the NCEW has to cope with the emerging economic and technological breakthroughs. The revitalization of local manufacturing industries, the production of quality, competitive products, and the development of a strong, capable work force are the primary issues at this time.
Interestingly, creating synergy among various associations and reinforcing partnerships or agreements between the NCEW and other institutions was topics discussed at great length. As well, key issues for 2019 were also discussed. These include: pension-related issues, worker rights and duties, restructuring of the NCEW, the creation of a viable venue for the enhancement of strong ties among institutions, the opening of new training centers, creation of new job opportunities, shifting from an agriculture-based economy to one that is technology-based and assisted, and ensuring the resolution of challenges.
Tekeste Bayre, Secretary of the NCEW, highlighted various accomplishments registered by the NCEW during 2017 and 2018. In the report that he presented, Mr. Tekeste noted that the NCEW has implemented various micro-credit programs that are aimed at improving the living standards of nationals. The NCEW has also worked hard to reinforce its bilateral ties with regional and international associations.
As part of its efforts to enhance workers’ skills, the NCEW provided a training workshop for trainers in collaboration with German wood and metal experts. As well, other training programs are being offered to teachers in the Massawa Training Center, in collaboration with SUKE, a Switzerland-based organization. Notably, SUKE has supported Eritrea for decades, even during the long struggle for independence.
Recently, the NCEW held meetings with the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU), both in Eritrea and Ethiopia. These meetings have heralded a new era of opportunities underpinned by cooperation among trade unions and labor organizations in the Horn of Africa.
As part of its plans for 2019, the NCEW is preparing an annual magazine, “Voice of Workers”, to be published three times per year. The provision of regular training programs, in collaboration with Eritrea’s Center for Institutional Excellence, will be continued and even enhanced in 2019. There are also preparations to conduct a national survey of Eritrea’s industrial productivity in cooperation with the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.
Established in 2015, the Massawa Training Center began to offer vocational training in three fields. Currently, the Center is providing a second round of training to 294 workers in six fields of study.
The NCEW vowed that it will work hard to increase its membership and to establish close ties with professionals in various disciplines. This will help it and its members to capitalize on emerging opportunities.
In line with the new era of peace and cooperation, and understanding that new job opportunities are on the horizon, the NCEW has been preparing a strategic five-year plan (for the period 2019-2023). Several important areas of focus include the creation of decent work, ensuring worker safety, and enhancing productivity. Last, the NCEW concluded its meeting with the election of a five-member executive committee.