Article on Inclusivity.

$6 MILLION PROGRAMME TO IMPROVE INCLUSION AT KENYA DRINKS BRANDS

The Central Organization of Trade Unions, Kenya, COTU (K), is part of a new $6 million programme to increase the inclusion of people with disabilities, particularly women, and improve labour rights at two large Kenyan companies.

The Global Labor Program – Inclusive Futures which will be launched on Friday 4 March is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and is a collaboration of eight Kenyan and global organizations, including non- governmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions and organizations of people with disabilities (OPDs).

The consortium of partners will work with global drinks brands: Diageo’s East African Breweries Limited (EABL) and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (Kenya) to embed inclusion and labour rights in the companies’ supply and distribution chains.

The five-year programme builds on existing UK aid-funded Inclusive Futures work in partnership with EABL, which gave farmers with disabilities skills and resources to supply sorghum crops, which are essential to brewing lager.

According to Sightsavers’ Kenya country director, Moses Chege, women, people with disabilities and young people often face unequal treatment in work, despite global improvements in labour rights legislation and policy. He said that the programme will not only improve inclusion and labour rights for people who are often marginalized but for everyone working across the supply and distribution chains.

Across the two companies, there are estimated to be 47,000 farmers, more than 9,000 people working in distribution and around 65,000 retailers.

 

He further indicated that “What we achieve will be used to demonstrate to industries and governments how to improve the employment of people with disabilities and demonstrate how labour rights can be strengthened for everyone.”

COTU (K)’s role in the programme will be to co-lead work with United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK) to build the skills and capacities of jobseekers, workers, employers and trade unions. We will also bring together our tripartite partners with other social partners to review legislation, regulation and policies in relation to women and men with disabilities and their labour rights.

Sis. Damaris Muhika, who is the programme lead, says, “considering we believe and advocate for social justice as recommended in the Abidjan Declaration of 2019, we are passionate about this programme because we want to ensure the implementation and awareness of SDGs, specifically SDG 8 that focuses on Decent Work and Economic Growth”.

Decent work, she argues, sums up all the aspirations that people have for their working lives. “This is because decent work, inter alia, delivers a fair income with security and social protection, safeguards basic rights, offers equality of opportunity and treatment, and also prospects for personal development and to have your voice heard.”

According to Sis. Muhika, the Global Labor Program – Inclusive Futures has the potential to hugely improve the working conditions for women/workers/people with disabilities – something which COTU (K) has been fighting for since our organization was formed in 1965.

“We’re thrilled to join our seven partners and work in partnership with these large companies, as we believe this programme has the potential to bring about real change for every worker in Kenya.”

The other consortium partners involved in Global Labor Program – Inclusive Futures are: Equal Rights Trust, Innovations for Poverty Action, Kenya Female Advisory Organization, LINC, Sightsavers, Ulula and United Disabled Persons Kenya. The programme will also be supported by Light for the World and The Syngenta Foundation.

For more information, visit www.inclusivefutures.org/global-labor-program