The ATGWU visited the Public Transport Operators Union (Puton) and the Matatu Workers Union (MWU) in Kenya, as well as the Communication and Transport Workers’ Union of Tanzania (COTWU-T), between 22 and 30 June. Stephen Abima, ATGWU secretary in charge of programmes, was accompanied by John Mark Mwanika, co-ordinator of the ITF’s informal transport workers’ project.
The urban transport sector in Africa is dominated by informal workers, for example drivers of the privately-owned minibuses, motorbike taxis and bicycle taxis which abound.
At their meetings in Kenya and Tanzania, the four ITF-affiliated unions discussed the challenges they face in organising in the informal economy – for example, the difficulty of collecting union dues when workers in the informal economy are often not employed on contract – and exchanged ideas on how to improve their strategies.
Puton general secretary Mbuthia Gakere said: "We need the ITF family to help Kenya’s informal sector unions to activate mass membership in order to develop independent and credible affiliation fee collection systems, organise impactful campaigns and educate our members.”
MWU general secretary Henry Omoga added that he was optimistic the visit would benefit his union and said further exchanges of ideas would assist all the unions to improve the conditions of workers in the informal sector.
The four unions committed to making more inter-union visits and to continue working closely together to build union capacity for organising in the informal sector.
The ITF’s informal transport workers’ project – a global education project on organising in the informal economy – is run in collaboration with the Global Labour Institute in the UK and funded by FNV Mondiaal in the Netherlands.
Keep up with the latest news on the ITF's informal workers’ blog.