Solidarity with Uganda – help needed

Unite branch organises appeal for Ugandan transport colleagues in Covid-19 lockdown crisis

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Unite Greater Manchester Social Action Branch is launching an urgent appeal on behalf of the Amalgamated Transport & General Workers Union (ATGWU) in Uganda to raise funds for the protection of union members and activists during the current coronavirus crisis which is sweeping through Africa.

Unite branch members are working closely with ATGWU in supporting their astonishingly successful organisation of informal transport workers which has seen membership grown from 8,000 members to 100,000 in just five years, mostly minibus (‘taxi’) and motorcycle taxi (‘boda-boda’) workers – the backbone of Uganda’s passenger transport industry.

But today, ATGWU and these workers face a major crisis.

On March 25, with just four hours’ notice, President Museveni declared a suspension of all public transport. Many thousands of livelihoods were instantly cut off. Uganda has virtually no social security system and an impoverished health service. Some of the workers had meagre savings, which have now run out. The majority have nothing. Families are stuck at home with no food. Taxi and boda-boda industry workers are among the most vulnerable.

Unite believes it is imperative that the taxi and boda-boda crews are able to get back to work as soon as possible, both to earn a livelihood, but also for the millions of people who depend on their service to get to work.

Kampala taxi park before lockdown

Kampala taxi park after lockdown

ATGWU urgently needs support to mobilise organisers and provide members with training and PPE equipment, including masks, sanitisers, temperature guns and soap, for them to return to work.

We’re asking Unite members and UNITElive readers to please donate to ATGWU’s emergency fund. 

For further information please contact us at [email protected]

Why not join in our Zoom talk?

You can join in the special Zoom Discussion to be held on May 28 at 6:30 pm. The theme will be Workers Under Lock-Down: The Struggle in Uganda

Join the discussion with Unite and comrades in Uganda, led by John Mark Mwanika, programme officer for Uganda’s Amalgamated Transport & General Workers Union (ATGWU).

By Dave Spooner, Chair, Unite Greater Manchester Social Action Branch

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