2020 WORKPLANS MADE BUT RESPONDING TO THE EFFECTS OF CORONA NOW HAS ABSOLUTE PRIORITY!!
Just before the Coronavirus broke out, a mission was organized to Uganda and Tanzania, with a double purpose: (1) Make the assessment of the 2019 state of affairs in both countries and evaluate the DECP input and (2) convene new work plans for 2020.
The assessment in both countries was very positive. Although there are some important differences between both organisations, respectively FUE for Uganda and ATE for Tanzania, the remarkable progress in is common in both countries.
Both countries have similar key challenges.
Challenge n° 1 : growing towards a higher membership level, by retaining more paying members, and by increasing the recruitment of new members. Both succeeded with honors in 2019. Uganda increased paying membership with 15%. Tanzania, starting from a considerable higher base, increased paying membership with 6%.
Challenge n° 2: create a sustainable income, via increased membership fees, but also via paying services, which will allow the organization to have a capacity for attracting competent staff and implement quality level services and policy influence. Again strong results. Uganda increased the total income with 11%. Tanzania increased its income with 27%. In both countries, income from membership fees has reached the threshold of 20%, which is the necessary minimum to be able to speak of a viable members organisation.
Challenge n° 3: develop in certain key area’s visible and relevant actions for policy influence in labour and social affairs. Again both did important work. In Uganda, FUE is mainly active and influential in the field of skills. In Tanzania ATE worked on minima wages, apprenticeship and skills.
In all these aspects, DECP supported very concrete steps which have been set in 2019. In membership via training and advice for the staff and support for the development of some membership tools like membership and databases. Regarding policy work, DECP supported, sometimes in cooperation with the ILO, some research and gave advice on policy positions.
For 2020, specific work plans have been discussed and convened upon with FUE and ATE.
Thematically, they intend to set further steps to support the development, in membership, services delivery for the members in fields such as training and legal support, and to improve the policy influence by FUE and ATE, be it via bi- or tripartite social dialogue, or via advocacy and lobbying, on key area’s for the economic and social development: skills, wages, productivity enhancement, improvement of the business environment.
But in the meantime, the Corona virus has contaminated the world, including Africa. To a lesser extent than Europe, but nevertheless also in Africa leading, next to a health crisis, to a standstill of the economy at present, and a slow re-opening planned for soon.
Obviously, the plans for support will have to be changed to the new situation and take into account the new urgent needs of the employers organisations, both in the short and medium term: How to be as employers’ organisation in these contexts relevant and attractive for members? How to re-organize our services, such as advice, training, networking, in the 1,5 meter society? How to keep membership at the level we reached? How to be prominent in transmitting the needs of our members to the policy makers? How to defend the crucial role of the private sector in the national economies and protect and help companies in these times of difficulties? And how to co-decide upon the directions our countries will take in the post Corona era?
This new agenda will most probably lead to a review of our workplans and the way to work together. But new challenges also bring new opportunities.