Lecturers Strike in Kenya
The Universities' Academic Staff Union (UASU) of Kenya began a strike on 1 March over the failure of their employer counterpart, theis currently involved in a labour dispute with the employers’ federation for public universities, IPUFFC. They have been unable to reach agreement on a collective agreement for 2017 through 2021. There have been no credible offers so far by the IPUFFC; Proposals lag far behind the rate of inflation. University staff are the only Kenyan public workers whose terms and conditions of service have not been adjusted.
There have been many incidences of harassment and intimidation of members of academic staff in an effort to get them to return to work without an agreement. EI has expressed concerns about the undermining labour relations in the higher education sector in Kenya, and called for the negotiation and implementation of a new CBA in the higher education sector.
Bridge International Academies in Kenya
On 20 February, the High Court of Kenya in Nairobi dismissed a case of defamation with costs brought by Bridge International Academies (BIA) against the Kenyan National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and its General Secretary Wilson Sossion. The case was clearly an attempt to silence the KNUT. When the case was originally filed by Bridge on 8 March 2017, the KNUT responded to Bridge’s lawyers by advising that it has no intention “to stop or not continue the publication of reports and stories … by any media house or any person as such events and information are justified and fair comment about your client." In the wake of BIA failed attempt to silence its critics, the Kenyan minister was called on to “shut down Bridge schools and any other illegal schools.“
Child Labour-Free Zones in Uganda
A study misión was held in Uganda on 23 February to 2 March to learn from the expertise developed by the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) in establishing child labour-free zones. The misión focused on a zone being developed in Erussi (West Nile). Workshops were organised with teachers and headmasters trained by UNATU, local authorities, and local project partners.
Participating organisations were the Teachers’ Union of Malawi (TUM), the Tanzania Teachers’ Union (TTU), and Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA) and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ). The workshop showed how children had been re-integrated into schools and how the UNATU had benefited from the Project in terms of unión building, including organising.
Another programme being carried out in Uganda seeks to improve labour-management relations and the quality of social dialogue in the Education sector. This project, which also seeks to increase the involvement of the UNATU in Education policy-making, is being carred out in cooperation with the Norwegian unión, UEN.
Child Labour-Free Zones in Mali
In a study mission on 26 March-1 April, representatives from Fédération des Syndicats de l'Education Nationale(FESEN) of Togo, the Fédération des Syndicats Nationaux des Travailleurs de l'Education et de la Recherche(F-SYNTER), the Syndicat national des enseignants du secondaire et du supérieur(SNESS) and the Syndicat national des enseignants africains du Burkina(SNEAB) of Burkina Faso, were joined by volunteers from the German teachers’ union’s (GEW) Fair Childhood Foundation. They visited six villages in Mali and discussed the work of the Syndicat National de l'Education et de la Culture UNTM(SNEC-UNTM) in mobilising against child labour. They had discussions with focal point teachers, headmasters, anti-child labour school clubs, associations of mothers of pupils, watch committees and children who have been re-integrated into schools.
However, in addition to reviewing the success of the Project in eliminating child labour, the unión representives also saw how the SNEC-UNTM has been strengthened in terms of membership growth, a better image, more influence in the community, better relations with employers and improvements in social dialogue.
Following the study mission, on 2-6 April, discussions where held on progress of the “out of work – into school” project in Mali. Since the project began in 2015, 674 teachers have been trained on children’s rights, communication, negotiations skills, development of anti-child labour school clubs and associations of mothers of pupils. As a direct result of the project, dropout rates have fallen sharply in the 45 schools covered and over 800 children have been removed from work and re-integrated in school. The influence of SNEC on child labour and on other issues has grown with these results.