The KUDHEIHA Workers achieved a number of milestones during the 2017-2021 plan period despite the ravaging effects of COVID-19. These included an increase in union membership by 7,462 members, signing of 118 new Recognition Agreements (RAs), and successful negotiation and registration of 315 new CBAs. The CBAs had clauses that enhanced protection of workers.
The Union also reported 1,105 trade disputes to the Ministry of Labor (MoL). Of these, 852 were settled at the conciliation level, 61 were settled through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism, and 192 forwarded to ELRC for adjudication. The high proportion (77.1%) of disputes settled through conciliation shows increased negotiation skills and strategies by the union officials and staff.
The Union also instituted a number of legal proceedings at the Employment and Labor Relations Court (ELRC). These include the dispute between it and the Ministry of Education (MoE) on the universal CBA that covers all schools. It also pursued the demarcation dispute between it and KETWASU at the ELRC. Equally, KUDHEIHA Workers received a favorable ruling at the ELRC in the matter involving the dispute between it and Riara Group of Schools. The ELRC ordered the employer to recognize the Union and pay to the Union KSh. 2.6 million, being the cumulative membership dues that the employer refused to deduct from the workers and remit to the Union as per the labor laws.
The Union also enhanced its publicity, lobbying and advocacy activities. These included coordinated outreach through social media platforms, electronic media, press conferences, and provision of information, education and communication (IEC) materials. It also sustained its lobbying and advocacy activities towards ratification of International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention Nos. 189 and 190, and continued to advocate for safe labor migration.
The Union also strengthened and widened its framework for strategic partnership and collaboration. It continued to strengthen its partnership with the Solidarity Center (SC), Oxfam, International Union of Food (IUF), Forum for International Cooperation (FIC), International Labor Organization (ILO), International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), Public Service International (PSI) and Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES). Others are Stretchers Youth Organization (SYO), Kamukunji Youth Empowerment Network (KYEN), National Social Security Fund (NSSF), National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU-K). The collaboration and partnership were mainly aimed at promoting protection of labor rights, increasing access to social protection particularly by domestic and informal economy workers, and enhancing safety and health at workplaces particularly during the COVID-19 period.
The Union also engaged the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers and Allied Workers Union (KLDTDAWU) and Kenya County Government Workers Union (KCGWU) in a partnership that focused on Busia county. The collaboration and partnership were mainly aimed at increasing protection and voice of the workers along the transport corridor, and enhancing their capacity to demand for worker rights. The Union also established a multi-stakeholder coalition of migrant workers to promote safe and regular labor migration, and curb human smuggling and trafficking in persons (TiP).
In 2021, KUDHEIHA in partnership with the SC, KYEN and SYO launched a successful petition to the Cabinet Secretary, MoL on reducing workplace exploitation for informal workers. The petition called for policy, legal and institutional reforms to address precarious employment particularly in the informal sector. It rallied the Ministry and duty bearers in the labor market to address NSE, minimum wages, occupational safety and health (OSH), labor and OSH inspectorate services, dispute resolution and social protection.
The milestones realized by the Union during the 2017-2021 plan period was mainly attributed to its increased focus and investment in organizational capacity building. The organizational capacity building targeted training of union staff and officials in core areas of work performance. The training areas included paralegal, organizing, collective bargaining and negotiations, grievance and dispute handling, industrial relations, climate change, and information and communications technology (ICT). The Union also installed ICT infrastructure in a number of its branches, improved filing, and established a membership database to facilitate capturing and tracking of union members. It also enhanced coordination in membership organization and recruitment, conducted awareness raising for potential union members, and opened additional branches and sub-branches in Nandi, Busia, Kibwezi, Kabarnet, Maralal and Ol Kalau. The Union also institutionalized ADR, and conducted programmes targeting women empowerment.