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Capacity building of East African trade unions

TUC Aid project
Report type
Research and reports
Issue date
Project summary

Capacity building of East African trade unions to advocate for trade deals that deliver decent work and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Project budget: Funding for phase 1 of the project is - £35,500

(The total 3-year project cost is £91,500)

The project aims to increase the capacity and efficacy of unions in the East African Community customs union (EAC) to influence free trade negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) currently underway with the EU and UK so that they promote decent work, gender equality, access to social protection, and support meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UK government has explicitly said that it intends to replicate EU EPAs post-Brexit and this process has already begun, with the UK government in trade talks with governments across Africa. These current trade negotiations will set a precedent, and trade union advocacy to influence these will have a wider impact. The first phase of the project commenced on 1st October 2019 and was extended due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is due to finish in June/July 2021. With additional funding, the project will run for a further two years with activities and outcomes already identified.

Ms. Faith Lumonya of SEATINI-Uganda, taking NOTU participants through a group work session
Ms. Faith Lumonya of SEATINI-Uganda, taking NOTU participants through a group work session

Phase 1 project activities include:

  • Working with experts to develop a training manual.
  • The baseline information provided by EATUC’s national affiliates between January and March 2020 will provide the basis for the development of the training materials and training content.
  • EATUC and its affiliates are identifying a total of 70 trade union participants who will take part in training and train the trainer’ workshops. Participants will be identified through EATUC’s affiliates’ Women and Youth committees, to ensure inclusion.
  • EATUC will work with its affiliates to develop an advocacy strategy.
  • Relationships with like-minded organisations will be strengthened through joint campaigning, advocacy and media work.

Project progress (March 2021)

Implementation of project activities has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the project coordinator based at EATUC has made progress on delivering some project activities.

Outcomes in phase 1 include:

  • Development of a training manual by the EATUC and the Southern and East Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institution (SEATINI Uganda) – which covers the UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 8 (sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all); information about the multilateral trading system; bilateral and regional trade and investment agreements and their linkage to decent work; and understanding the engagement structures related to trade at national, regional and global level to aid effective trade union advocacy.
  • In November 2020, training of 10 trade union participants in Uganda, with a gender balanced group. This was delivered in collaboration with the National Organization of Trade Unions, Uganda, by SEATINI Uganda and the EATUC.
  • In November 2020, training of 12 trade union participants in Kenya, in a gender balanced group. This was delivered in collaboration with COTU-Kenya.
  • A COTU-Kenya trade network was formulated as an outcome of the training, which will continue engaging government on trade union objectives in trade deals.
  • Increased partnerships with civil society organisations including GreenPeace Africa and ECOnews Africa to strengthen advocacy.

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