The Current Problems Facing Trade Unions in Kenya and the Way For...

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The Current Problems Facing Trade Unions in Kenya and the Way Forward to These Problems

By | June 2008
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Trade unions are associations of employees (there are also associations of employers - F.K.E) and their main objective is to represent the employees' interests to the employers. The right to form and join a trade union is a fundamental human right. A well functioning and respected trade union movement is often a good indicator of democracy and standards of human rights. Besides playing a role in the fight for better working conditions, trade unions have had (and continue to have) a key role in the building of social movements and the developing of social changes. The role of trade unions has been very varied. In some countries, where fascist and communist regimes were in place, trade unions were overtaken or created by state authorities and the political elite and turned into a tool for their oppressive regimes. As a result of this historical reality, many people are skeptical of the role that trade unions can play, and only lately have the workers from these countries started to recognize the positive role of trade unions in the fight for protecting their rights. Other differences exist across Europe, especially regarding the role and organization of trade unions. In most countries, trade unions are organized in confederations. In Kenya however, we have COTU as the umbrella governing trade unions. Trade unions were established to protect the working life of workers. Currently they are facing varies challenges and hence weakening of the unions. Some of the problems being faced by trade unions in Kenya are challenged by globalization, revolution in production technologies and new management styles. Splintering, changing mentality, mismanagement of funds, lack of innovation and visionary leadership are a big handicap. Most unions are grappling with the democratization of social and political arena besides government interference. There is need for redefining the role of unions beyond the workplace needs, reaching out to segments currently excluded, training...