The Central Organization of Trade Unions, Kenya has developed a draft “Covid – 19 Response and Resilience Strategy” whose objective is to support the National Center and its Affiliated Trade Unions recover from the negative impacts of the pandemic.
Forward by Secretary-General.
Building Back Better (BBB) has, in the near past, become a strategic focus for governments, international organizations, multinationals, regional political and economic blocks, and more importantly, trade unions. In doing so, the objective has become to craft policies and plans, whilst build structures within institutions and organizations that are resilient to sudden changes. Today, the world is a different place because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is because, with the advent of this Pandemic, the world of work faced great challenges due to the measures and advisories provided by governments and the World Health Organization, WHO.
But even before Covid-19, it is important to note that the world of work was still undergoing changes that required strategic thinking to overcome. For instance, technology and issues surrounding climate change were already proving to be a disruption enough to the world of work as we had known it. Work was being automated with robots replacing humans in many manufacturing plants and some governments and organizations were already investing in artificial intelligence allegedly and erroneously so, to increase efficiency. This also meant that questions surrounding productivity were also taking center stage with many employers emphasizing on outputs but with little focus on the welfare and rights of workers. Therefore, it is only right to say that most of the challenges brought about by Covid-19 to the world of work are not entirely new. If anything, Covid-19 has just acted as a catalyst for the changes that have been for long-anticipated and dreaded in the world of work.
Yet, in all that, Trade Unions in Africa and throughout the world played a major role in protecting jobs and lives immediately after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic. Through the ability of a union to negotiate for better pay and conditions and defend workers’ rights, many trade unions entered into MoUs with governments and employers to not only safeguard jobs but also ensure that workers were safe at their place of work.
Now, it behooves us as trade unions to engage in strategic thinking about the future. And such is the purpose of COTU (K)’s Covid-19 response and resilience strategy (2021-2025). Herein are plans that COTU (K) has resolved to undertake stemming from one of the resolutions of the 16th Quinquennial Conference held in Kisumu on April 9th, 2021 whereupon COTU (K) delegates and the leadership agreed to come up with strategic plans for the future.
This strategic document speaks, at great length, on how COTU (K) and affiliated unions can manage emerging issues like organizing around the informal sector, tapping into the gig economy, ensuring just transition, and how to work with key partners especially in the supply chains.
Emphasis has also been placed on, first, collaborations and partnerships with social partners and, secondly, the role of trade unions in the implementation and awareness of SDGs, specifically SDG 8 which focuses on Decent Work and Economic Growth.
We all look forward to our full commitment towards the implementation of this document and also its adaptation by our affiliate unions so as to build trade unions that are resilient to future changes in the world of work. #buildingbackbetter #danishtradeunionagency.
Dr. Francis Atwoli NOM (DZA), CBS, EBS, MBS
Secretary General – COTU (K)