The Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) was founded in April 1973 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Prior to its founding,  three (3) Pan-African trade union organisations existed, namely:

  • All-African Trade Union Federation (AATUF), based in Accra, Ghana;
  • African Trade Union Confederation (ATUC), based in Dakar, Senegal;
  • Pan-African Workers Congress  (PAWC), based in Banjul, the Gambia.

Each of the three (3) organisations represented different trade union tendencies. The founding of OATUU put an end to the existence of the three Pan-African trade union organisations, which voluntarily dissolved themselves in Addis Ababa in April 1973.

At the founding of OATUU, although the overwhelming majority of national trade union centers supported its creation,  there were a few national centers that had reservations. It was not until March 1975 – at the first meeting of the OATUU General Council in Accra, Ghana – that all the national trade union centers in Africa eventually agreed to become fully-fledged members of OATUU, thereby ensuring the total unity of African workers.


  1. OATUU carries out education, training, research, and advocacy in the following areas: 
  • Popular participatory and people-empowered democracy
  • Defense and promotion of trade union rights
  • Economic integration
  • Women empowerment
  • Economic restructuring
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Promotion of social dialogue
  • Campaign against child labour
  • Trade and development
  • Entrepreneurship and small business development within African trade unions
  • Action against HIV/AIDS

2. OATUU performs its functions of coordinating trade union actions in Africa by,

  • defending the moral and material interest of African workers, including migrant workers; 
  • harmonising labour legislation and the principles of collective bargaining;
  • working for African unity and economic integration; 
  • working for social and economic justice etc., through its interaction with various regional and international bodies 

3. OATUU takes particular actions against the reported and proven violation of trade union rights.  It does so by,

  • taking up such violations with the governments concerned,
  • filing complaints within the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Aims and Objectives

The main aims and objectives of OATUU are:

  • To coordinate the action of its affiliates through Africa.

  • To achieve trade union unity both at the continental and national levels.

  • To represent and defend the material and moral interest of African workers and trade unions in regional and international organisations.

  • To work towards the harmonisation of labour legislation and the principles of collective bargaining in Africa.

  • To protect and affirm the independence and identity of African trade unions at all levels.

  • To promote, reinforce and defend trade union and other human rights.

  • To work for African unity and economic integration.

  • To contribute to the achievement and consolidation of peace in the world.

  • To defend the material and moral interest of migrant African workers in collaboration with trade union organisations of the host countries.

  • To give solidarity assistance to workers and trade union organisations.

  • To fight against imperialism, colonialism, racism, apartheid and their departments, as well as, against feudalism and any other forms of oppression and exploitation for the economic independence and the complete emancipation of Africans.

  • To work for social and economic justice, to protect health and safety at workplaces, to secure the education and training of Africans and to ensure the guarantee of full employment.