Workers from different economic sectors in the country, particularly those in southern and central regions, converged today, 30 April 2015, at Diplomatic Hotel in Mogadishu to mark this year’s International Labour Day celebrations.

The occasion was organized by the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) and was attended by more than 200 trade union leaders & activists, civil society and parliamentarians.

The trade unionists and invited guest used the May Day celebration to remember the fallen heroes and heroines of Somali workers who were killed since May 2014. They celebrated and saluted the strength and resilient fighting spirit of the working class people of Somalia and their industrialunions who toil daily under a paltry salary, unsafe environment, precariousworking conditions and suppression of labour rights. 

The celebrations paused and reflected on series of suicide attacks carried out in Mogadishu were union members and politicians were murdered and wounded. Union leaders gave out respects to the murdered officials & members in the labour movement and politicians by making prayers and reciting Surah Al Fatiha of Holy Quran.

FESTU used the celebration to submit socio-economic demands of workers, as resolved by the Executive Committee of the federation, which targeted government and businesses. Among the key demands are to stop limitless violations of labour & trade union rights; stop corruption & misuse of public office; eradicate poverty; reduce inequality; stop poor service delivery in our communities; and improve security & safety of citizens.

Addressing Labour Day celebrations in Mogadishu, General Secretary of FESTU, Omar Faruk Osman, said “we must commemorate May Day not only for it’s historical significance, but also as a time to organize around issues of vital importance of today for the working-class.”

“Somali Workers and their trade unions still need to mobilise on 1st May and beyond to confront the many challenges we still face and increase the tempo of the struggle for a just and equitable Somali society,” said Osman.

The federation celebrated this May Day amidst continued working class suffering. “We cannot speak of freedom of movement when it is unsafe for workers to move freely; we can not speak of right to life when workers are killed with impunity; we can not talk about rights when workers bear all forms of weather conditions in their work and endure the worst forms of abuse and exploitation; and indeed we cannot speak of the freedom of association when a government politician or an official of Ministry can wake up one day and think that he can decide who should be trade union leader or which union should exist” he added.

The commemoration heard testimonies of daily abuses, beatings, murder and rape working men and women are being subjected to.

Trade Union leaders lamented that despite Somalia ratifying the major international labour Organisation conventions on promoting and protection of fundamental rights, a lot of Somali workers have not benefited as provided for in the Conventions.

FESTU condemned in strongest terms possible the Minister of Labour of Somalia for committing gross violation of human and trade union rights, and urged workers to step up the campaign against the further degradation of their working conditions and living standards, and resist thoughtless attacks by the Minister against labour movement.

Union leaders and members categorically stated that the struggle to build a new, peaceful and better Somalia cannot be led by those who benefitted from inequalities, poverty and trade union oppression, and continue to pursue policies to deny workers and their organisations their fundamental rights.

Security around the venue where Labour Day celebration was held was tight to prevent any potential attacks from violent groups like Al-Shabaab terrorist group.

FESTU is holding tomorrow, Friday, International Labour Day celebration in Garowe, Puntland. 

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