Unions are boosting their membership numbers and making the most of the growth of the manufacturing sector in Kenya. This has seen the recruitment of 725 workers at footwear manufacturer, Walker Industries.
Following a recruitment and organizing drive that saw union membership increasing by 387 male and 338 female workers, IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Kenya Shoe and Leather Workers’ Union (KSLWU) signed a recognition agreement with Walker Industries on 13 November in Nairobi. The company manufactures EVA slippers, PVC sandals and gumboots. The slippers and sandals are popular because they can easily be molded into different shapes unlike those made from leather.
The recognition agreement establishes labour relations harmony at the company and commits to cooperation between the employer and the union. It also aims to create relationships that will promote better working conditions and living wages. Workers’ right to strike and collective bargaining will be respected and labour disputes will be dealt with according to the Labour Relations Act. Provisions of the ILO Convention 135 on the protection of workers’ representatives against dismissals and other forms of victimization that arise from their being representatives of a union will be respected.
The recruitment and organizing drive is part of the IndustriALL East African union building project, supported by the Danish trade union federations’ LO/FTF Council, which promotes social dialogue and labour rights in developing countries. The project aims to build strong unions in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Says Catherine Aneno, IndustriALL coordinator for the project:
“We welcome the signing of the agreement with Walker Industries. Recognition agreements are one of the crucial instruments that are used to promote better working conditions and social dialogue in the factories. Further, it is important to commend the vigour that is being put by the KSLWU into gaining more members. It is this energy that will make unions grow in Kenya.”
The government’s policies including the Kenya Vision 2030 identifies manufacturing, including in the textile and garment sector, as a key driver for the country’s industrialization. The country also exports to the USA under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act whilst international garment brands source from the country.