The National Confederation of Eritrean Workers (NCEW) is trade union movement in the Eritrea. It is a national, independent, autonomous trade union that is legally registered as a non-governmental organization. The National Confederation of Eritrean Workers (NCEW) was established in 1994 at the fourth congress of the preexisting NUEW (National Union of Eritrean Workers) with a new and independent structure. Elected representatives from the base union level and Federations attended this Congress.
The origins of the trade union movement in Eritrea date from the Italian Colonial Period (1890 – 1941). The Italian rule lasted for fifty years and was replaced in 1941, by a British Military Administration. It was during the British Occupation (1941 – 1951) that workers in Eritrean Industries organized themselves to confront the segregated colonial employment system.
The first trade unions were factory based and were formed in 1948. These unions later united in 1952, formed the National Union of Eritrean Workers for Independence (NUEWI). The NUEWI was based upon the principle of unity amongst all Eritrean workers. The first ‘Eritrean Worker’s Day’ was celebrated on December 7th, 1952.
Ethiopia’s annexation of Eritrea in the 1950s eroded Eritrea’s political autonomy. Trade Union rights were withdrawn in 1957. Later, the Ethiopian government established its own style of trade unionism in Eritrea. The Ethiopian government appointed union leadership and used the unions as a means to control the labor force. The NUEWI were opposed to the abrogation of the rights of freedom of association. The officers of the NUEWI were subjected to harassment and intimidation.
Membership in the Eritrean trade union prior to independence was mainly located in the Diaspora. In the period, when the Ethiopians controlled Eritrea prior to 1991, the trade union leadership was appointed by the government to serve their interests and membership was mandatory.
There was an extensive reorganization of the trade union after independence of the country in 1991. After 1991 the trade union was reorganized along democratic lines with leadership elected by the membership from the base unions and membership was voluntary. The union membership is organized into five sector Federations. Leadership of the Federations is elected from the base union level.
The Five Federations are:
|Food, Drink, Hotels, Tourism, Agriculture and Tobacco Workers Federation|
|Mining, Chemical and General Workers Federation|
|Service Industry Workers Federation|
|Transport and Communication Workers Federation|
|Textile, Leather and Shoe Workers Federation|
|Chemical, Mining and General workers federation||Food, drink and allied workers federation||Service giving industries workers federation||Textile and leather workers federation||Transportation and communication workers federation|