Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Worker's Action in East Africa

February has seen it's fair share of working class action in Africa, particularly East Africa.
Due to the ongoing economic depression in Zimbabwe and the political violence in Kenya, there has been a series of strikes and protests. Zimbabwe's labor movement continues to struggle on in face of State repression of the Mugabe regime. Due to the various trife that has occurred in East Africa, from the Rwanadan Genocide, Lords Resistance Army insurgency in Uganda to the Ethiopian and Somalia Civil Wars, Kenya and Tanzania are one of the few stable nation-states. Zimbabwe, Kenya, as well as Malawi are East African countries with the more stronger and viable labor movements.

BULAWAYO – National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) workers have downed tools demanding salary increases of between 700 and 1 000 percent, ZimOnline has learnt.

Sources at the NRZ said the workers, who embarked on a go-slow last Friday, finally downed tools on Wednesday after management refused to bow to their demands.

The NRZ is said to have only agreed to hike the workers’ salaries by 230 percent, an amount the workers say is not enough given Zimbabwe’s massive hyper-inflationary environment.


Zimbabwean teachers, who have been on a two-week strike to press for more pay, say they will not return to work until the government increases their salaries to Z$1.7 billion a month.

Oswald Madziva, the national co-ordinator of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), said although the government had awarded salary hikes last month, the salaries were still way below their expectations.

Madziva said the strike by teachers had plunged the entire education system into chaos after hundreds of teachers failed to report for duty at the beginning of the term last January in protest over poor salaries.


About 30 casual workers at the Kenya Meat Commission in Mombasa yesterday(2/25/07) went on strike, protesting against poor terms of service and unfavourable working conditions.

They said they had worked as casuals since the plant reopened early last year and were yet to be considered for contractual employment. Speaking to Nation on condition of anonymity, the workers said at times they worked for only two or three days a month.

“Given that we are paid Sh310 per day, and with Sh200 National Social Security Fund (NSSF) deductions it leaves nothing to take home,” said one worker, claiming that the money had not even been remitted to NSSF.
The workers also claimed that their seniors intimidated them.


The Kenya Aviation workers union has issued a 21-day strike notice to the ministry of labour.

The union says the move was precipitated by what it terms the ministry's failure to facilitate the continuation of the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the Union and the management of the Kenya Airports Authority-KAA.

Secretary General Jimi Masege claims that several meetings held with the management have come to naught and that the KAA managers are avoiding contact with them due to the issue.

The Union represents over 400 workers in the aviation industry, including security workers, firefighters and parking attendants at all airports.


Minister of Information and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati was this afternoon expected to hold a closed-door caucus with top management of Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) to try assist resolve the crisis that has hit the company.

Employees at Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) have today entered seventh day of their industrial action thereby completely crippling business in the country.

The strike has reached a crisis stage and Kaliati told Nyasa Times just before lunch hour she was not happy with the industrial action.

The industrial action, which started last Friday, is as a result of the company's failure to pay its junior employees their pension money accrued from 1997 to February 2006 when MTL went under new management.

The junior employees claim that all senior managers got the benefits and yet are failing to give them their dues.

But MTL top management has insisted the strike is illegal and has asked all striking employees to resume work or risk unspecified action.

Nyasa Times' visit to MTL offices at the Chichiri Stadium Exchange, Ginnery Corner and Head Office in Livingstone Towers in Blantyre revealed few workers present just chatting.


Union members called for a strike against security company G4S to begin Wednesday, January 30, but the company was able to obtain an injuction against the strike late Tuesday night. The workers and union complain that the company's wage proposal will only deepen their poverty.

Last July, G4S recognized the Textile and Securtiy Services Workers Union in Malawi, and by October, the union and the company started to negotiate an agreement for G4S’ 13,000 workers there.

G4S is the largest private sector employer in Africa , and the second largest private employer in the world. But the role they are playing in Africa is to maintain the poverty of their workforce, rather than to use their economic might to raise standards across the continent. Today, G4S employees in Malawi can barely afford to eat and rarely live in decent housing.

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