Trade Union Revitalization in Kenya: Acquisition and Utilization of Power Resources
AbstractA consensus has emerged in trade union research that trade unions are not solely at the mercy of major societal trends, but always have the option of making strategic choice(s) to revitalize and ensure improvement in the socio-economic welfare of their members. The key question is, which power resources and means of exerting such power are available to trade unions in the different context they face to reposition and revitalize themselves?Â This paper uses the power resources approach to identify the power resources that were acquired, developed and utilized by the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union to revitalize. The revitalization process, which started in 2011 saw the union transform from an outfit characterized by leadership wrangles, coup dâ€™Ã©tats, demarcation conflicts and low membership density to one with relatively high membership, stronger cohesion and solidarity, and unity amongst the leadership and the rank and file members. Based on the analysis, the revitalization of the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union reinforced the fact that associational power is best sustained through institutional power. The revitalization process also saw a double framing function by allowing the union to gain more sympathy and relevance from members of the public, while internally presenting it with articulation capabilities to bring together national officials, shop stewards and rank-and-file members. These changes made the union to increase its density by almost tenfold between 2011 and 2017. It also enabled the union to emerge as a strong, cohesive and vibrant union capable of turning challenges into opportunities.
Chun, J. J. (2009). Organizing at the margins: The symbolic politics of labor in South Korea and the United States. Ithaca
Frege, C. M. and Kelly, J. E. (eds.) (2004). Varieties of unionism: Strategies for union revitalization in a globalizing economy. Oxford /New York.
LÃ©vesque, C. and G. Murray (2010): Understanding union power: resources and capabilities for renewing union capacity, Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, 16 (3),
McCullum, J. (2013) Global Unions, Local Power: The New Spirit of Transnational Labor
Organizing. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press/ILR Press, ISBN 978-0801478628
McGuire, D. (2014). Analyzing Union Power, Opportunity and Strategic Capability; Global and Local Union Struggles Against the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GAT). As retrieved from https://muplress.mcmster.ca/globallabour/article/ownload/1147/1203, viewed on 28th December 2017
Omolo, J. (2015) A Survey of the Private Security Industry in Kenya, Nairobi: International
Republic of Kenya (2007) Vision 2030 Strategy for National Transformation: Accelerating Equitable Economic and Social Development for a Prosperous Kenya. Nairobi: Government Printer.
(2013) Second Medium Term Plan (2013-2017): Transforming Kenya-
Pathway to devolution, socio-economic development, equity and national unity, Nairobi: Ministry of Devolution and Planning.
(2016) Economic Survey. Nairobi: Government Printer.
Silver, Beverly J. (2003). Forces of Labor. Workers' Movements and Globalization since 1870, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Turner, L. (2006). â€œGlobalization and the Logic of Participation: Unions and the Politics of Coalition Buildingâ€, Journal of Industrial Relations 48, pp. 83â€“97.
Voss, K. and Sherman, R. (2000). â€œBreaking the Iron Law of Oligarchy: Union Revitalization in the American Labor Movementâ€, American Journal of Sociology 106, pp. 303â€“349.
Weber, M. (1968). Economy and society; an outline of interpretive sociology. New York: Bedminster Press.
Webster, E. and Ludwig, C. (2017). â€œSword of Justice or Defender of Vested Interest? The
Struggles of Johannesburgâ€™s Municipal Workersâ€, in: Webster, E., Britwum, A.O, and
Bhowmik, S. (2017). Crossing the Divide: Precarious Work and the Future of Labour, Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press
Wright, Erik Olin (2000). â€œWorking-Class Power, Capitalist-Class Interests and Class Compromiseâ€, The American Journal of Sociology, 105(4), pp. 957â€“1002.