An international solidarity project run by UNI with the support of the FNV of Netherlands helped Ugandan Carrefour workers secure the first collective agreement and blazed the trail for further organizing campaigns across Africa.
The project titled “Establishing Bridges, Growing Solidarity and Strengthening Collective Bargaining” has been concluded with an International Solidarity Summit held in Entebbe, Uganda on 22-25 January 2024.
“Thanks to the project, we have organized 99 per cent of the workers of Carrefour, and we signed the first collective bargaining agreement with the company. We are excited about these achievements,” said Moses R. Mauku, General Secretary of the HTS Union of Uganda.
At the Summit, trade union leaders and activists from the Netherlands and Uganda, including Ugandan Carrefour workers and Dutch Lidl workers, shared their experiences and discussed the issues commerce workers face in both countries with presentations and workshops. The participants also visited the NOTU (National Organization of Trade Unions in Uganda) and HTS Union Head Offices, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, a Carrefour store, and the ILO Office in Uganda.
“I am so proud of this project, proud in many ways,” said Fatma Bugdayci-Karatas, union official of FNV. “This project has led to the first collective agreement ever at Carrefour in Uganda. This is the best example of international solidarity.”
The collective agreement was concluded with the biggest franchisee of Carrefour, Majid al Futtaim, a UAE-based company that operates Carrefour stores in 17 countries across Africa, Middle East and Asia.
“We believe that this collective agreement is the first of many to come at Carrefour stores in Africa,” said Keith Jacobs, Regional Secretary of UNI Africa. “We will keep working with our affiliates to grow union power for Carrefour workers across the continent.”
The collective agreement includes an annual salary review and enhanced benefits and working conditions. The CBA also provides women workers with better rights.
Teddy Nagawa, one of the participants of the summit and chief shop steward at Carrefour, Uganda said:
“Maternity leave for the mothers who give birth was two months, but right now it is three months. So, that is a great deal for a mum to spend time more with her kid. We also won rooms for moms for breastfeeding.”
In addition to the summit, two online trainings focusing on global framework agreements and due diligence were also held as a part of the project with the participation of trade unions from multiple countries including Uganda, the Netherlands, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Oman, Kenya, France, and Belgium.
Carin Steenbergen, one of the participants and a member of the FNV Lidl Activist Network, said:
“HTS Union had the first collective bargaining agreement because Carrefour has a global framework agreement with UNI. So, it has opened my eyes, I can see the advantage of having a global framework agreement with Lidl. That is my dream.”
UNI has renewed its global framework agreement with Carrefour in 2022. The CBA in Uganda not only secures respect to trade union rights in the direct operations of Carrefour, but it also has a specific language on the franchised operations of the company in over 35 countries.
Mathias Bolton, Head of UNI Commerce, said:
“The motto of our global conference was ‘Commerce Workers Rise’. This project has shown how we can rise together with international solidarity. We are proud of our affiliates, FNV of the Netherlands and HTS Union of Uganda, for establishing this magnificent bridge of solidarity across the continents.”
The Summit made headlines in the Uganda’s evening news bulletin: