An international trade union mission composed of two representatives from EI and the African director of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) managed to open doors in Ethiopia. Meetings could soon be secured with the Ethiopian Ministers of Education and Information, together with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and embassy officials.
During the mission, the representatives highlighted to the Ethiopian authorities the concerns of the international trade union movement about the constant harassment of teachers and journalists in Ethiopia. The Minister of Education, Dr. Sintayehu Wolde-Michael who was appointed in October 2005, agreed to meet the leadership of EI affiliate, the Ethiopian Teachers' Association (ETA) for the first time. The Director of the ILO sub-regional office for Eastern Africa also agreed to provide technical assistance to the ETA. The group also attended a court hearing involving 131 persons from civil society including Kassahun Kebede, chairperson of the ETA Addis Ababa branch, and visited the Kality prison where they are detained. They managed to talk with Kassahun's lawyer and provided humanitarian assistance to the families of teachers currently imprisoned. The international trade union representatives also held meetings with the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU) to explore ways to reinforce trade union solidarity in the country. Meetings were likewise held with the other teacher union, also called the ETA, with which EI's ETA has been in litigation for the last 13 years. A mission report with recommendations will soon be made available. EI was represented by Irene Adanusa-Duncan, President of the EI African Regional Committee and General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), and Dominique Marlet, EI Co-ordinator for Human and Trade Union Rights. The mission, led by Gabriel Baglo, IFJ's Africa Director, took place from 18-22 May 2006.