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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 December, 2003, 12:17 GMT
Globalisation 'is failing Africa'

By Damian Zane
At the African regional summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Field of hungry people   BBC
"A hungry man is an angry man."
The present global economic system is failing to improve the lives of workers in the world's poorest countries, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

While the world is getting richer, unemployment and poverty are growing in Africa, ILO boss Juan Somavia said.

Only decent labour rights can ensure fair and equitable economic development on the continent, Mr Somavia insisted.

A major shift in global economic and social policies is required, he said.

Regional summit

Mr Somavia called for a move away from what he described as the "Washington Consensus", that is a global economic policy defined by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Globalisation as it works at present is not helping the African continent, he said.

His comments were made at a four-day African regional summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The meeting, which will last all week, brings together hundreds of delegates representing government, labour and employers.

Hunger and anger

The meeting will focus on what the ILO calls the creation of "decent work", that is, secure jobs that offer additional benefits beyond employment, such as health care, training and pensions.

At the moment, 80% of Africa's labour force work in the "informal economy" where for most people nothing is guaranteed.

The ILO argues that creating secure jobs will come at very little cost that is far outweighed by the rise in productivity and the benefits to society as a whole.

As one delegate said: "A hungry man is an angry man, and it is better for everyone that he is satisfied".

The meeting will see negotiations between labour, employers and governments to find common ground on the creation of "decent work".

Their recommendations will be taken to an African Union summit next year.

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