On 3 July 2019 a delegation from the Swedish Union for Service and Communications Employees (SEKO) led by the union’s vice president Gabriella Lavecchia conducted a mission to Kenya, where the delegation met with BWI affiliates and visited a construction site operated one of the big Chinese construction companies.
In introduction the delegation which also consisted of Jens Saverstam, director of the International department, Nickie Gatzourasm, Analyst at the International Department and Alan Kartal, Digital Communicator, Vice-President Lavecchia stated, “The purpose of our visit is to extend global solidarity to BWI affiliates in East Africa sub region, meet with the leadership of trade unions in Nairobi, and more importantly to get a first-hand look at the work of BWI and its affiliates in Kenya.”
The Swedish delegation was welcomed by the leaders of the Kenya Building, Construction, Timber, Furniture and Industries Employees Union (KBCTFIEU) at the union’s office where, they had fruitful discussions on KBCTFIEU’s work in organizing Kenyan workers and its success in signing several collective bargaining agreements with Chinese construction companies operating in the country.
Joe Macharia the Assistant General Secretary of KBCTFIEU said “It is always a pleasure to receive trade union leaders from Sweden and share with them our work on the ground in organizing and servicing our members. This visit will help to strengthen solidarity between BWI affiliates in Kenya and Sweden.”
The following day, the SEKO delegation visited the Standard Gauge Railway construction site in Ngong area where KBCTFIEU organized over 5,000 workers. The union has also signed an agreement which guarantees limited working hours with overtime payment, occupational health and safety provision at all levels in the work place, and a good severance package at end of the project.
The railway construction project is jointly funded by the Chinese and Kenyan governments and contracted to China Communication Construction Company Limited, a major Chinse construction company operating in both the country and the region.