Earlier this month the FES FOUNDATION presented a report at the KNPSWU headquarters in Nairobi on Global Transformation of Trade Unions. KNPSWU was ranked first and benchmarked for other unions as a case study.
The FES Foundation is a German Social Democratic development fund that sponsors many union projects in the world. In 2013 UNI Property Services began a partnership with KNPSWU and FES to help to develop the KNPSWU.
Although the history of the union goes back till the 1960s, because of leadership struggles, breakaways, amalgamations and corruption issues it has only become a success story in the last dozen years. It was in 2006 when a crisis with the security guards at the US Embassy in Nairobi lead to the formation of the union as we know it today. From there on it was a union founded, owned and governed by security guards. As is often the case, a hostile environment and lack of resources was not the best place for a fledgling union to grow. In 2011 the union had 327 members and by 2013 it had reached the limits of its then capacity with around 800 members.
Thanks to FES resources and a UNI PS training programme, organisers were trained, additional funding provided and motorcycles supplied. From there the union started to grow. In an ongoing cooperation KNPSWU now has a reach of over a 100,000 workers and 45,000 paying members. It established a fully-fledged National Secretariat Office, headquartered in Nairobi with seven operational branches employing over 30 workers. KNPSWU won more than 95 percent of court cases on behalf its members. The union has organized/recruited and signed 14 Recognition Agreements with leading security providers in Kenya and begun the process of collective bargaining.
KNPSWU successfully lobbied a National Private Security Bill and is a member of the governing authority for that Bill. For the first time, the union is participating, together with the Labour Commissioner’s office, in reviewing and introducing new favourable clauses in the Protective Security Services Wages Order. This unique initiative is almost concluded. The Order- is a guiding principal factor in all industrial disputes/matters that judges rely upon in determining the fate of any employee in the sector.
The union has an ambitious plan to roll out their union model to every region in Kenya, aiming to organise 300,000 out of the 450,000 security guards in Kenya.
The focus of the cooperation with UNI and FES is now much more aimed at exchange with other unions in the region. This broadening of aims recently proved its value in a successful blitz campaign in Zambia, recruiting 600 new members. In the meantime we see reports of successful industrial action in Kenya almost every month. With 90% density within GardaWorld’s African brand KK security, KNPSWU is the leading union stronghold in this multinational company in Africa.