“It is Our pleasure to inaugurate, today, the Headquarters of the Confederation of Ethiopian Labour Unions.
“The promotion and maintenance of a higher standard of living for Our people, and the encouragement of increased social harmony among them, continue to be among Our foremost aims. These objectives can be achieved, however, only by making maximum use of all human and natural resources of Our Empire.
“It is Our desire that the workers cooperate with each other to gain further knowledge and to improve their living standards, and in so doing to help their country as well.
“Considering that the existence of benevolent associations has been traditional and has had a long history among Our people, the concept of trade unionism may not seem new to Ethiopia. Nevertheless, an association of persons seeking to protect the human rights and economic interests of its members, most of whom have recently moved from an agrarian to an industrial life, with all the changes that the move entails, is quite different form the benevolent association of the old days.
“The promotion of a higher standard of living for Our people is also greatly dependent upon harmonious relations and voluntary cooperation between labour and management. Such relations and cooperation should have as their purposes the creation of favourable labour conditions for workers in all enterprises, the peaceful settlement of labour disputes, and the encouragement of collective bargaining. With these goals in mind, We have made laws and regulations to guide labour and employers and have established and institutional framework within which guidelines can be applied.
“However, in their endeavours to improve the lot of their members, unions should not think in narrow terms alone, but should govern their actions so that they do not adversely affect the interest of society as a whole. A union composed of workers without regard to their race, creed or sex becomes the true symbol of Ethiopian unity.
“Ethiopia is striving harder than ever to overcome ignorance and to accelerate her progress in order to obtain a higher economic standard for her people. However, We know that a well-balanced socio-economic development cannot be achieved overnight. To reach this ultimate goal, Ethiopia has a very long and strenuous journey ahead of her.
“The development of a country cannot be undertaken by the Government alone. It needs the participation, cooperation, sacrifice and farsightedness of every individual. Since industrial peace is a pre-requisite for economic development, it is paramount that both employers and workers collaborate with each other and work together towards a common goal.
“The economic advancement of a nation demands not only the accumulation of capital, but sufficiently trained manpower as well. Efforts are now being made to eradicate ignorance from Our Country, and it is imperative that unions cooperate by giving this objective priority in their activities.
“Education is a vital key in Our development. Education will enable the worker to understand his rights and obligations. It will also help him to increase his productivity and to improve his standard of living. Without the trained manpower that education produces it is inevitable that development plans will not be realized.
“It is gratifying that, within the short period of the last seven years, the Confederation of Ethiopian Labour Unions has reached the advanced stage at which we now find it. The centre that is being inaugurated today is clear testimony of CELU’s maturity, initiative and perseverance. Yet, it must be remembered that the centre is not an end in itself, but a harbinger of better things to come. As always in the past, you can count on Our constant support and guidance in the future.
“Lastly, We thank the African-American Labour Centre and all others who participated in making this edifice a reality.”
April 8, 1970