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28 APRIL 2006

Kenya: Workers' Memorial Day Activities 2006

Kenya Union call for G8 to set up permanent HIV/AIDS working group

KPAWU: The Kenya Plantations Agricultural Workers Union has become the first union to join the 28 April global campaign to direclty call on the G8 industrialised countries to set up a permanent high-level HIV/AIDS working group. The working group would assess progress on commitments identified in the Commission for Africa’s report to the 2005 Gleneagles G-8.

In a letter addressed to the British High Commissioner in Kenya the KPAWU General Secretary Francis Atwoli wrote: “On the occasion of April 28th, the “International Commemoration Day (ICD) for Dead and Injured Workers,” the Kenya Plantation & Agricultural Workers Union calls on you to convey an urgent message to your government. We ask your government to urge the G8 Summit to create a high-level permanent Working Group on HIV/AIDS.

The U.K. is a member of the G8, along with Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the Russian Federation and United States. The KPAWU was responding to a Global Union call for trade unions make contact with G8 embassies in their own countries.

Atwoli told the UK High Commissioner that a permanent group was needed to guarantee progress on the commitments made by governments at the Gleneagles G-8 Summit last year to achieve Universal Access to Treatment by 2010 and to further the development of a vaccine to prevent HIV infection.

He said that HIV/AIDS is a serious problem in Kenya but that the HIV/AIDS crisis is also having a world-wide impact with consequences for all countries, emphasizing there was an urgent need for a global response, matched by the sustained commitment and the resources of the world’s richest countries. 6.7% of Kenya’s the adult population is considered HIV infected.

“Workers are dying due to HIV/AIDS, along with millions more from many other sectors of society. Trade unions, employers and governments have cause for concern about the negative impact this is having on the fabric of society today and the serious long term implications for future economic and social development,” he said.

News of the action comes amidst early 28 April reports from unions in Cambodia, Sudan Tanazania and Uganda, confirming they also plan to follow suit with actions in their own countries next 28 April. At the international level the ICFTU, Education International (EI) and the Public Services International (PSI) have also joined the effort by calling on their union affiliates within G8 countries to communicate directly with their own governments.

The KPAWU is a member of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations, based in Geneva Switzerland.

Contact Francis Atwoli []