A fortnight ago, Kenyan trade union leader Francis Atwoli was fined 500,000 Shillings (that’s about £3,000) because he refused to call off a strike (two years earlier!) defending jobs in the Kenyan tea industry from mechanisation. He was confined to the cells until his union came up with the cash.
The details of the strike – which lasted just two days and was a huge success – as well as the subsequent court case and fine are on the TUC website. The Kenyan trade union movement has already paid that fine, but still needs to pay the legal costs incurred. And finding that sort of money in a country as poor as Kenya is not easy – which is where we come in. The TUC is organising a fund raising appeal to raise the money.
We want to show practical solidarity with the Kenyan unions who took legitimate industrial action in defence of jobs, and with their leader who stood up for them. We want to help pay the union’s costs to demonstrate that an injury to one is an injury to all, and to demonstrate that we will not be intimidated by rich and powerful employers.
Next week, Francis will be at the General Council of the International Trade Union Confederation, meeting in Jordan. The TUC want to make his day by giving him the money to reimburse the union for the fine. It may take us a bit longer to pay off his legal costs, but we really do want that £3,000 as soon as possible!
We know times are hard, and you probably already give to all sorts of good causes when you’ve got the cash. But Kenyan tea workers don’t earn anything like a UK wage, so we’re in a position to help them out. That’s what trade union solidarity is all about – and we want to put that solidarity to work!
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