Education International
Education International

Ethiopia: EI relaunches Urgent Action Appeal

published 10 May 2006 updated 10 May 2006

EI has relaunched its Urgent Action Appeal for Ethiopia, to bring to the attention of member and partner organisations worldwide the urgent situation its affiliate, the "Ethiopian Teacher Association" (ETA) is now in. The Ethiopian government has repeatedly harassed and threatened the ETA, by dispossessing it of its properties, imprisonning of its officials as well as interfering with its trade union activities by force.

EI warns the government that its current actions violate the ILO Convention 87 which it ratified in 1963, and any continuation of such anti-union behaviour will only incur further international condemnation. A Global Union delegation comprising representatives of EI, the International Confederation of Free Trade Union (ICFTU) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) will visit the country next week.

For more information, please read EI's letter in English dated 9 May 2006. To read the Urgent Action Appeal, please refer to the link below. _____________________________

His Excellency Meles Zenawi

Prime Minister

Republic of Ethiopia

Fax: +251 11 224 11 94

Brussels, 9 May 2006

Your Excellency,

Education International – the Global Union Federation of education personnel which represents over 29 million members in 166 countries and has the Ethiopian Teachers’ Association (ETA) headed by Gemorraw Kassa, as one of its affiliates – is very concerned with the disruption on 30 April of the ETA General Assembly by the Special Forces.

As you are aware, Article 3 of the International Labour Convention 87, ratified by Ethiopia in 1963, states clearly that "workers' and employers' organisations shall have the right to […] organize their activities and to formulate their programmes. […] The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof".

In 2005, the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations recalled that “the right to organize public meetings constitutes an important aspect of trade union rights […] While reasonable restrictions are acceptable, they should not result in breaches of fundamental civil liberties. The Committee trusts that the Government will take all measures necessary to ensure that any restrictions on the organization of public meetings by trade unions are reasonable and do not constitute infringement of fundamental civil liberties.”

EI also deplores that over a dozen of ETA delegates have been harassed, searched and dispossessed of their documents after the disruption of the ETA General Assembly by the special forces. This took place despite the fact that all teachers’ representatives peacefully complied with the orders to immediately vacate the compound. Some ETA delegates have even been harassed after they returned to their hometown. EI also wants to stress that the special forces seized the trade union documents that had been distributed to the participants and that those papers were not returned to the delegates.

On previous occasions, EI and other member organisations in Europe, Africa and North America, have raised concerns about your government’s treatment of the legitimate teachers’ representatives. We again urge your government to uphold the right of teachers to unionise and the right of teachers' organisations to organise their activities.

EI and teacher unions worldwide remain determined to support fellow teachers and trade unionists in Ethiopia.

A global union mission comprising of representatives from Education International will come to Ethiopia later this month. Your embassy in Brussels has been approached to secure meetings with government officials and it is hoped these matters can be raised during those official meetings.

Yours sincerely,

Fred van Leeuwen

General Secretary