East Africa: Unions celebrate gains in recruitment and advocacy

Last March, 15 representatives, including 5 women and 5 youth, from 8 BWI affiliates in East Africa convened in Nairobi, Kenya for an FNV Evaluation and Planning Workshop. In the said training, the unions celebrated significant achievements they had last year, notably the successful recruitment of approximately 3,227 new members in construction, infrastructure, and PIP projects, many of which were owned or operated by multinational companies (MNCs) and funded by international financial institutions (IFIs).

The workshop highlighted ongoing efforts in campaigns and lobbying for the ratification of the International Labour Organization's Convention No. 190 and Recommendation 206. The ratification of ILO  C190 in Uganda and Rwanda marked a significant milestone in advancing labour rights, particularly on ensuring workplaces are free from all forms of violence and harassment.

Inspired by these accomplishments, the “FNV project unions” recognised the persistent violation of labour rights in IFI-funded and PIP projects. They collectively agreed upon mechanisms and strategies to assist workers in gathering information for filing complaints, compiling case studies, and initiating independent investigations through factual exposés. Furthermore, commitments were made to strengthen social dialogue and intensify organising and recruitment efforts in MNCs, IFIs, and PIP projects affecting supply chains where BWI is present at.

Julius Macharia, National Chairperson of KBCTFIEU, expressed the union's determination, stating, "After a successful 2023, this year, the FNV project unions will focus on pushing MNCs to comply with (inter)national labour standards and IFI labour requirements. Through policy influence and continuous capacity building of staff and union members, we are confident that decent and progressive work standards can and will be met.” He said that this commitment underscores the trade unions' dedication to empower workers, advance labour rights, and promote positive change in the East African region.