Hawassa, Ethiopia, Aug, 2022 -- Ethiopian Investment Commission, together with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the BRIDGES Programme, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the Hawassa Industrial Park launched the Hawassa Industrial Park grievance-handling call center.
The center provides standardized anonymous grievance recording and counseling services to workers. Workers can report incidents by calling a hotline or visiting the center in person. The call center is expected to help resolve workers’ issues as they arise, including mitigating sexual harassment and gender-based violence. The numbers to reach the call center are 046-212-0087 and 046-212-0080.
Ethiopia’s textile and apparel sector has experienced a boom in export-led growth. The country aims to become one of the most competitive locations for light manufacturing. Trade agreements with the European Union through the Everything but Arms Act, (EBA) and with the United States through the African Growth and Opportunities Act, (AGOA) provide preferential trade access for Ethiopian goods. Ethiopia is using these advantages to attract investment and create jobs for young people. As of August 2018, Ethiopia attracted USD 4.1 billion in foreign direct investment, the highest of any African country. Recently, major investors have seized the opportunity to set up production facilities in Ethiopia’s industrial parks.
The apparel sector currently employs more than 100,000 workers, 85-90 percent of whom are women sewers. Hawassa Industrial Park employs around 35,000 factory workers, more than 80 percent of whom are women.
Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) services promote the well-being of workers. However, OSH services at a national and regional level are not addressing the current needs of the sector and very few factories have functional OSH management systems.
To strengthen labour management system in the industrial parks, Ethiopian Investment Commission, the ILO, the BRIDGES Programme, and GIZ collaborated to support the public industrial parks to establish communication platforms in support of occupational safety and health starting with the Hawassa Industrial Park.
The Hawassa Industrial Park workers’ call center is established to address workers’ grievances in a prompt and confidential way and to provide appropriate referral support and advice to promote sound labour relations by supporting the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of workers. The call center is placed under the Industrial Peace Directorate of the Ethiopian Investment Commission which aims to promote labour peace in the industrial parks.
Moreover, the center will enhance transparency and accountability by providing accurate and timely information about labour laws, standards and procedures to workers and employers in a simplified manner. It facilitates women’s economic empowerment and productivity improvement by ensuring the rights of women workers. It promotes a workplace that is free from violence and harassment by letting workers report on any work-related injuries and diseases at the workplace which helps to identify and enhance the prevention and protection mechanisms.
In addition, based on the frequently asked questions, the center will develop targeted programmes to address specific vulnerabilities and challenges facing workers.
The staff hired at the center will respond to questions and provide counseling and psycho-social support to callers and in-person visitors. The call center is a specialized telephone service that provides an effective way to listen to and counsel callers anonymously and disseminate information. The number will be accessible in Amharic and Sidama languages. Anonymity will ensure the caller can ask questions and raise issues that they otherwise might not. In offering anonymity, the center serves as a source of information that will not embarrass, label, or judge a caller. "The workers' call centre is the gateway to creating a human-centred investment that responds to the gaps in workers’ legal awareness and the lack of a systematic institutional mechanism to address grievances at the IP level. This call centre, which will indeed be useful to enhance sustainable industrial relations, is achieved through our development partners’ unique collaboration and support," said Daniel Teressa, Deputy Commissioner, Ethiopian Investment Commission.
"The grievance-handling call center is a safe space for workers to voice their concerns and get solutions. This is very useful for safeguarding the workforce that’s 90% women and new to industrial orientation," noted Henok Tenna, Team leader, BRIDGES Program.
"The workers’ call centre in Hawassa Industrial Park is an important step in giving voice to the workers, protecting workers’ rights and promoting sound labour relations in the park. Under the auspices of the Ethiopian Investment Commission and the HIP tripartite grievance redressal committee, the call centre will give advice and support to workers to address their grievances and concerns without fear of retaliation. This is particularly important in cases related to sexual harassment and Gender-Based Violence," said Kidist Chala, Programme Head, OneILO/Siraye.
"The grievance-handling room provides a safe and confidential environment for employees to seek assistance when they encounter problems or violations of their rights. It is essential in meeting obligations under international human rights law and contributes to positive employee relations," mentioned Yared Fekade, Acting Project Head & Component Manager, Sustainable Industrial Clusters (S.I.C.) Project.
While praising this initiative, Samuel Yalew Adela, Country Head, Ethiopia at the Mastercard Foundation stated, "The safety and wellbeing of young people and program participants is at most priority to the Mastercard Foundation. We hope this emerging practice and the experience we gain from this will encourage other IPs and those directly interacting with young people to develop similar platforms."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
About Ethiopian Investment Commission:
The Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) is an autonomous government institution accountable to the country’s Investment Board, which is chaired by the Prime Minister. The commission is established with the objective to enhance the competitiveness of the national economy by promoting investments in productive and enabling sectors, creating more and better employment opportunities for Ethiopians and advance transfer of knowledge, skills and technology required for the development of the country, and to augment the role of the private sector in the country’s economic development.
About International Labour Organization:
The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all. The ILO has 186 member states: 185 of the 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands are members of the ILO.
Published: Monday, August 22, 2022
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