The Acquisition and Utilization of Power Resources: Kenyan Trade Union Revitalization


In trade union research, it has become obvious that trade unions are not solely at the mercy of large societal trends, but that they always have the option of making strategic decisions to revitalise and improve the socioeconomic well-being of their members. The important question is: given the many contexts in which trade unions must reposition and reinvigorate themselves, what power resources and techniques of exerting such power are accessible to them? This study employs the power resources technique to identify the power resources that the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union obtained, developed, and used to revitalise. Since 2011, the union has gone from a state of leadership squabbles, coups, demarcation battles, and low membership density to one of relatively high membership, stronger cohesion and solidarity, and unity among the leadership and rank and file members. According to the analysis, the resurrection of the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union supported the conclusion that associational power is best perpetuated through institutional power. The revitalization process also served a dual purpose, helping the union to garner public sympathy and relevance while also allowing it to develop internal articulation capacities that allowed it to bring together national executives, shop stewards, and rank-and-file members. As a result of these changes, the union’s density increased approximately tenfold between 2011 and 2017. It also aided the union’s development into a strong, united, and active organisation capable of converting obstacles into opportunities.

Author (S) Details

Jacob Omolo
Department of Applied Economics, Kenyatta University, Kenya.

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