It is understood officers occupied the offices of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union (ATGWU) in the city of Kampala this morning (Friday 22 May). This followed attempts by the union to elect officials to represent newly recruited members, a process which was disrupted by police.
On an audio recording from the scene at the union offices this morning you can hear general secretary of the ATGWU Azizi Kiirya as he protests against the presence of a police officer in his office: "How can police seal off my office! I'm the general secretary… These are workers, they are [the police] also workers, and they are intimidating workers...
“If you think you are helping the government, you are destroying the government, and I’m going to tell His Excellency the president. Police are destroying the government.” Access the full recording via the link at the bottom of this release.
The ATGWU has brought some 30,000 precarious workers into the union over the past few months, mainly Kampala City or urban taxi and mini-van drivers.
The ITF is making an urgent intervention calling on the President of Uganda to ensure that the union is able to go about its democratic activities unfettered in the future.
ITF Africa regional secretary Joe Katende said: “We’re at a loss as to what’s going on here. There has always been a positive relationship between the government in Uganda and the ATGWU, in fact President Museveni is even an honorary member. Now we see aggressive intervention in union business which amounts to a violation of trade union and human rights.
“We can only assume the events unfolding have something to do with the union’s work around organising precarious workers but we need answers and we need assurances that this kind of thing won’t happen again.”
Allan Munobwa, ITF Africa regional office: email@example.com +254733383918
The ATGWU is a mentor union in the ITF precarious workers programme.