A frontline African trade unionist, Nigeria’s Issa Aremu has advocated for a rapid industrialisation of the African continent as a way of creating quality, sustainable jobs, and lifting African people out of poverty.
In an intervention remark shortly after he was unanimously elected as the Vice President of the 50 million membership IndustriALL Global Union at the 2nd World Congress of the global union, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Thursday 6th October, he observed that while Africa is a wealthy continent, blessed with abundance of raw materials, regrettably its peoples don’t profit from this, because “value is added further up the supply chain” through wholesale exportation of raw materials and importation of finished items.
Aremu who is also the General Secretary of Nigeria textile union whose textile sub sector had witnessed a dip in recent times due to negative impact of trade liberalization cited Nigeria as “a classic case;” where “crude oil is exported, while refined petroleum products are imported, in the process jobs are exported in a country with 50 per cent unemployment”.
The unionist identified absence of sustainable comprehensive industrial policy as the bane of African development adding that Africa needed infrastructure: effective transport and communication networks, reliable electricity supplies and a transparent regulatory framework for it to add value to its natural resources through industrialization.
The labour leader urged African delegates to be inspired and energized by IndustriALL’s goal of ensuring sustainable industrial development, and accordingly engage government and employers on industrial policy issues for urgent beneficiation and value addition in Africa.
Over 1,500 delegates drawn from 600 affiliate unions from more than 100 countries gathered at IndustriALL Global Union Congress which held from 3rd to 7th October, 2016. It was formally opened on Wednesday 5th October with the theme; Fighting Forward/A Luta Continua.
The Congress was addressed by the former Brazilian President Lula, Mr. Guy Ryder Director General of the Geneva based International Labour Organization, ILO and Ms Sharan Burrow, the Secretary General of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
Until his new position as Vice President representing Africa, Comrade Aremu was a member of the Executive Council of the movement as well as the Chairman of the Sub Saharan Africa region. The global union in the past years on the continent campaigned against precarious work and sustainable industrial policies the highpoint of which is annual observance of Africa Industrialization Day November 20th as declared by United Nations Assembly.
Also elected as Vice Presidents by the Congress are; Tahar Berberi from Tunisia, Raul Enrique Mathiu from Argentina, Anders Ferbe from Sweden, Carol Landry from the USA, and Aihara Yasunobu from Japan. Agustin Martin Martinez from Spain will take over from Anders Ferbe in 2018 until the next Congress in 2020.
IndustriALL Global Union has six (6) Regions from which the Vice Presidents were elected. The Regions are; Sub Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific. Jörg Hofmann from Germany emerged as the elected President. Mr Hofmann comes from the biggest over a million membership German metalworkers’ trade union, IG Metall, where he is also President.
Valter Sanches from Brazil was unanimously elected the General Secretary. Mr Sanches is from Brazilian metalworkers’ union, CNM/CUT, where he was Secretary of International Relations.
Atle Høie from Norway and Jenny Holdcroft, who is British-Australian, were elected Assistant General Secretaries, along with Kemal Özkan from Turkey who was re-elected to the position of Assistant General Secretary. Jenny Holdcroft was previously policy director at IndustriALL, while Atle Høie comes from The Norwegian United Federation of Trade Unions, where he was International Secretary.
IndustriALL Global Union was founded four years ago at the Inaugural Congress held Tuesday June 19th 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark with the merger of three international trade unions, the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM) and International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF).
IndustriALL Global Union with more than 600 trade union affiliates represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors and is a force in global solidarity taking up the fight for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world.
With his election as Vice President of IndustriALL Global Union, Comrade Aremu represents over five million African manufacturing workers in the Presidium of the global (manufacturing workers) union, IndustriALL.
Comrade Aremu who is also a NEC Member of NLC brings to the global labour movement his Comrade Aremu brings to IndustriaLL over two decades of experience in organizing, negotiation and collective bargaining, workers’ representation and policy advocacy. Aremu second class Upper graduate of Economics from University of Port Harcourt, started his trade union carrier an an organizer in textile union and Nigeria Labour congress in late 80s. He holds distinction in Master degree in Labour and Development studies from the prestigious international Institute of Social Studies (ISS) The Hague Netherlands. He is a member of National Institute (Mni) having attended the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) Kuru Jos (mni) course 27 in 2005.
Aremu is also the Secretary General of the Alumni Association of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (AANI) among others. He had served in various labour market institutions that included, Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, 2000 and 2009-2010, Special Committee on the Revival of Textiles and Cotton industries, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Committee (PPPRC) and Governing Council, Michael Imoudu National Institute of Labour Studies (MINILS), Ilorin, Kwara State. He is a 2016 Fellow of the African Leadership Initiative (ALI) Media Fellowship Programme and a recipient of the National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) Award.