International call for release of Kenyan trade union leaders

March 8, 2019

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) secretary general Francis Atwoli has called for the release of the union leaders

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), representing 18 million workers in 147 countries, is calling for the immediate release of Moses Ndiema, secretary general of the Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KAWU), and other union leaders.

The trade union leaders were detained as part of government efforts to suppress a strike by workers at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The workers are demanding an end to mismanagement, corruption and precarious work practices in the Kenyan aviation sector.

ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez said: “This is a clear attempt to suppress the rights of aviation workers in Kenya to exercise their internationally recognised right to strike. It will fail.

“By arresting Moses Ndiema and the other union leaders the Kenyan government will make the workers more determined to win, it will ensure even greater international support and solidarity for their cause.

“The government needs to stop wasting time. It must immediately release Moses Ndiema and the others and start talking to the workers and their unions to find an end to this dispute.”

Earlier this week, Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) secretary general Francis Atwoli, said: “The strike that the workers staged was a legal one, planned to the letter, and the authorities informed about it. Why should the Transport CS (James Macharia), in the last minute, make a turnaround, pronounce it illegal and arrest union leaders?”

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