The International Labor Organization – the ILO – says it’s very concerned with the violent developments in Guinea. Kari Tapiola is executive director of the ILO. From Geneva, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about trade unions in Guinea.
“At this moment our main concern is the safety, the physical safety, of trade union leaders, because much of the conflicted has originated in a general strike and social conflict between the trade unions and the president of the country. But of course our concern is to find a way to end the violence and get down to negotiating solutions to the problems that they have,” he says.
With a curfew in effect and military and police patrolling the streets, what can be done at this stage? Tapiola says, “What can we do against heavily armed soldiers? Really what we are saying is that the president or whoever has effective power in that country should sit down and negotiate with the trade union leaders, with the employers, with all others who are involved. So that they can find a solution to the problems.”
Asked whether the ILO would be willing to help in such negotiations, he replies, “We can step in if everybody asks. We have been involved throughout this crisis indirectly. But our main concern…is to try to help create a situation where the trade union leaders don’t have to be afraid for their lives. And that is the situation now.”
As for the role of the international community in the Guinea crisis, the ILO leader says, “The international community has leverage if everybody together says that this senseless violence has to stop and that there has to be a civilized way of solving issues.”