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International Trade Union Confederation suspends scribe

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja
28 March 2023   |   5:16 am
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) general council has suspended its General Secretary, Luca Visentini.

Luca Visentini

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) general council has suspended its General Secretary, Luca Visentini.

In its meeting on March 11, 2023, the council considered the report of the special commission established by the general council in January to investigate circumstances surrounding the allegations against Visentini, including the results of the external audit, and other matters including ITUC financial rules and procedures, conduct of elections and related issues, as well as the outcomes of an external audit related to this.

The council unanimously adopted the report of the special commission and the external auditors’ report.

The Commission found no evidence of donations from either Qatar or Morocco influencing the ITUC’s policies or programmes.

The meeting however decided that Visentini no longer had the confidence of the General Council as ITUC General Secretary.

ITUC said its Council decided to organise an extraordinary ITUC World Congress, as soon as practicable where a new General Secretary will be elected.

“A further General Council meeting will take place at the beginning of May to elect an Acting General Secretary who will organise the extraordinary Congress. In the interim, political leadership will be exercised by the ITUC President and Deputy Presidents, and daily management by Deputy General Secretary, Owen Tudor, in close cooperation with them,” it stated.g to examine possible amendments to the ITUC Constitution, the financing of campaigns for ITUC leadership elections, and financial compliance.

The Council also adopted a recommendation from the Special Commission to establish a clear anti-corruption policy and code of conduct.

“The events of the past few months have caused significant damage to the ITUC’s reputation. Important lessons have been learned and the General Council reiterated the ITUC’s absolute opposition to corruption in any form. It decided on key steps to be taken through new and reinforced rules and processes. We are determined to protect the ITUC from any form of improper influence, or indeed the appearance of such influence. We will work intensively to make the necessary changes as we continue to fight for workers’ rights, social justice and equality in every part of the world,” said ITUC President Akiko Gono.

Meanwhile, the ITUC has welcomed moves to negotiate a new international convention on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

A ‘zero draft’ of the convention, which will be discussed at the 76th WHO World Health Assembly May 21-30, 2023, includes many positive elements.

Tudor added: “The draft needs strengthening in a number of areas, including the role of trade unions in protecting workers and thus the public. Poor conditions in workplaces of many different types have been a major driver of the spread of Covid-19, and proper health and safety protections, including ventilation and other means of combating the transmission of this airborne pandemic, have been sorely lacking. Where workers have a say through collective bargaining and social dialogue, these deficits can be identified and eliminated, for the good of all.”

ITUC noted that the convention must recognise that, while health and care are central, agriculture, education, sanitation, transportation, and services are also imperative for public health.

The zero draft identifies discrimination, in particular in the health and care workforce, as an important factor of concern. While the focus on gender discrimination is welcome, other forms of discrimination must also be fully addressed.

ITUC said it is also concerned that the government’s compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHR), the principal anti-pandemic tool, is not subject to effective independent supervision.

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