Systematic violations of rights

Same as last year


Workers' rights violations


Workers at Style Industries Ltd, a manufacturer of synthetic hair, have been fighting since 2015 to have their union, the Kenyan Union of Hair and Beauty Workers (KUHABWO), recognised. KUHABWO recruited 3,811 workers out of a workforce of 6,000, of whom 85 per cent are women, but the company did all it could to harass and discourage union members. When union officials came to recruit workers during breaks or lunch time, the employer used the police to harass and arrest the workers to stop them from speaking with union representatives.

The dispute became deadlocked at conciliation, and the case went to the Employment and Labour Relations Court, which issued a restraining order against the company in 2017. The order instructed Style Industries to stop “victimising, intimidating, coercing, harassing, and indulging in unfair labour practices” and allow for the case to be finalised in court. Further, the court said the company must stop terminating contracts and dismissing union members because of their union membership.

Despite the court’ decision, the company’s union-busting tactics continued, and in May 2021 it dismissed another 150 union members. Those who were not deterred by the move and remained union members were threatened with dismissals.

A solidarity campaign was launched in June 2021 to raise awareness of the company’s anti-union tactics.

Right to collective bargaining

Around 11,000 local government workers in Nairobi, Kenya, went on strike on 13 October 2021 over the non-implementation of a collective bargaining agreement going back to 2013. The workers’ grievances, for years, included lack of promotions, repeated delays in salary payments and failure to remit statutory deductions. Another grievance was lack of personal protective equipment, and more recently at least 11,000 county workers had been without medical cover since July 2021.

After two days, the Kenya County Government Workers’ Union (KCGWU) was told its members could return to work. The union hoped promises regarding the workers’ key demands would be kept, but the government had agreed to workers’ demands before and repeatedly reneged on them.

Problems resurfaced at the beginning of February 2022, and workers gave City Hall 21 days to pay them more than KSh560 million in pending salaries and remit statutory deductions or they would take industrial action.

Workers’ rights in law

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