Social Dialogue play an important role during a crisis

Social Dialogue is defined as, “Negotiation, consultation, or simply the exchange of information among representatives of governments, employers and employees, at a regional, sectorial and/or workplace level.” Applying social dialogue is an innovative approach to crisis management.

The key advantages of adopting a social dialogue approach include the promotion of human rights within the workplace. Social dialogue is instrumental in addressing the concerns of the employer and the employee as challenges and solutions can be handled jointly.

The approach promotes a sense of fairness, ownership and trust, which is known to reduce stigmas within the workplace, promote gender inclusiveness and favor productive relations between management and employees. Employee morale and productivity are as well likely to increase. The positive effects of social dialogue are felt not only through the employees but as well through their families, communities and societies.

Companies sharing cases

During the SWP webinar in April who gathered 48 participants from Sub-Saharan Africa, companies shared experience on their practical implementation of the promotion of the dialogue between management and employees.

Scania Kenya

Githaiga Kamwenji (HR Director Scania East Africa) shared that they have established crisis committees made up of both management and employees tasked with establishing local solutions for promoting business continuity. The committee has also been a key tool in ensuring the discussion on labour issues. It was noted that there are labour issues of concern which have come up due to the COVID -19 pandemic. These relate to sick leave, possibility of shift work, introduction of short time and possible retrenchment in some cases as businesses have been recording a slump in productivity adjustments, which has made social dialogue a crucial part of the running of day to day business.

Sodeico Group DRC

A case study from the DRC was shared which demonstrated the positive outcomes of fostering partnerships beyond the workplace, where strategies, innovations and solutions can be shared. As shared by Djo Moupondo (Executive Director of Sodeico Group), they have established partnerships with suppliers, customers and government which has enabled their implementation of strategies where they have secured business continuity and ensured that employees are safeguarded.

More recent highlights


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lack of enabling environment for social dialogue at the workplace level, despite the provision of legislative acts that protect and promote workplace cooperation is a reoccuring issue  in Kenya. To implement good policy there must be a fertil ground.

Therefore SWP developed the UP!  project. Together with Swedish companies as an entry point, and with unions i South africa and Kenya. 

In Kenya SWP created the SWP UP! Programme targeting skills development of the union Shop Stewards from 18 companies in the Automotive sector in Kenya during 2021. As a result, the Stewards were able to use their skills to build trust and cooperation with management in new ways to avoid conflicts. 

A second cohort of training, in close cooperation with union AUKMW, takes place in 2022.

The training allows shop stewards to step out of their daily routines and understand their role and the purpose of their union, understand the labour market context, the laws that regulate relationships and the business itself. But on a human level, many shop stewards also highlighted that they feel respected as human beings, and that they have developed the skills to engage with supervisors and management and experience respect in professional relations. The experiences had deeply impressed them and helped to project the vision of dialogue and mutual respect and their own potential as a means to change workplaces.

The intervention of the SWP programme had a direct effect at the workplaces, where shop stewards listed several cases where they had managed to intervene and secure results in dialogue with management, avert crises or find solutions based on opportunities and the communication skills obtained during the SWP training. For the Amalgamated Metal Workers Unions in Kenya, the shop stewards pointed to how the training had enabled them to design their own strategies at the workplace in relation to supervisors and staff, and to achieve many concrete results.

Based on this shop steward upskilling, I feel confident that as a union we now have change ambassadors that will grow the industry, protect, and promote decent work principles for both the employer and the employees represented. And that disputes will be dealt with at the workplace level by though consultative dialogue.

Rose Omamo

General Secretary
Amalgamated Union of Kenya Metal Workers