“We are working 24/7. When it comes to accidents we just take care of ourselves. When it comes to payment, it’s very little. We have families and we can’t make it with this salary, ” explained Ronald, an Agility Logistics trucker, to an ITF investigative team, in Kenya from 27 March to 2 April to look into the Kuwaiti-owned company’s treatment of its workforce.
The ITF team met with workers in Nairobi and Mombasa along with organisers and officials from their union, the Kenya Long Distance Drivers and Allied Workers Union and with the Kenya Dock Workers’ Union – who stand ready to take solidarity action.
At a meeting in Nairobi on Tuesday, Agility’s Kenya CEO, Mr. Ali Saibaba Kola told the ITF team that he would not voluntarily recognise the long distance truckers’ union.
Then a series of shocking anti-union events unfolded. The next day, 1st April, union activists threatened with transfer were locked out of their workplaces, unionised warehouse workers were told they had to sign an agreement to go to an agency employer in a move that would lose them all their rights, and all workers had their pay delayed until after the Easter holidays (a time when they would have been counting on the money). Finally police were deployed to escort tired and scared drivers, making them travel in a ten-truck convoy, apparently because the company feared industrial action.
“This is high-risk anti-union activity, the likes of which we have not seen before in Kenya, ” said ITF’s Africa regional secretary and team-lead, Joseph Katende, adding that the ITF may take a complaint to the ILO.
“The company is behaving in bad faith. I’ve seen clear evidence that Agility Logistics is intensifying its anti-union efforts and have heard many stories of atrocious working conditions, as well as of bullying and intimidation to prevent workers from joining the union. Yet I was encouraged by the clear determination of Agility Logistics workers to form a union, ” added delegation member Martin Mayer of the UK’s biggest transport union, UNITE.
The ITF is urging the global union family to stay vigilant and be ready to provide solidarity and strategic support. Find out more and help raise awareness with your membership:
– Visit and share the “Kenya truckers demand union rights“ campaign page >>
– Send a protest to Tarek Sultan, Agility CEO
– Hear from Agility workers at Gilgil Road Depot, Nairobi here http://goo.gl/sGKFOZ
– Hear from the workers in Mombasa threatened with transfer here http://goo.gl/gurh6y
– Follow events, tweet your support using #agilityunionrightsnow and @agility