Ethiopia’s prosperous economy attracts more and more investors that are linked to global supply chains. Given the mixed experiences in Asia, a stakeholder workshop focused on the protection of Ethiopian workers from work-related injuries and diseases by improving occupational safety and health practices. But do the Ethiopian Government, Trade Unions and Employers Association agree on the way forward?

The ILO estimates that worldwide, 2.3 million workers die annually from occupational accidents, 160 million suffer from work-related diseases, and 313 million sustain non-fatal injuries per year. Approximately 60% of the world’s labour force is ineffectively protected against these work-related incidents. The economic consequences are significant: it is estimated that the world loses more than four per cent of annual GDP as a consequence of work-related injuries and diseases.

As a consequence, the Vision Zero Fund (VZF) was created in 2015 under the German G7 Presidency to achieve zero fatal and severe work-related injuries and diseases by improving occupational safety and health practices and conditions in sectors that link to global supply chains. It also aims to strengthen institutions such as the labour inspectorate and the employment injury insurance system by bringing national and international stakeholders in both public and private sphere together to engage jointly in sectoral activities in a country.

On 14 July 2017, more than 100 international and national stakeholders took part in an event that was jointly organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

The main aim of the consultation was to raise awareness about the Vision Zero Fund, mobilize local and international support, and engage stakeholders in discussion. Furthermore, the consultation aimed to reinforce that occupational safety and health is crucial to Ethiopia’s efforts to attract international investment and highlight that social dialogue is an essential element to improve productivity in the country.

After the introductory remarks by George Okutho, Director of the ILO Country Office for Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, H.E. Mr. Abdulfetah Abdulahi Hassen, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Ethiopia and H.E. Ms. Yasmin Fahimi, State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs both stressed the importance of the Vision Zero Fund for Ethiopia’s efforts to improve occupational safety and health outcomes in the country.

Ockert Dupper, Global Manager of the Vision Zero Fund, closed the event by expressing appreciation for the support that the VZF received from the Ethiopian government, workers, and employers. He indicated that during the next few months, the VZF will continue the consultations with all the relevant stakeholders in Ethiopia on the possible next steps for the VZF in the country.

Robust informal talks continued amongst the attendees after the official closing.