Support for motorcycle-taxi drivers in Kinshasa: successful Belgian-Congolese trade union cooperation

A new trade union is born in Kinshasa. Its goal: to represent the informal sector motorbike-taxi drivers across the country.

By Guy Mpembele Kisoka, Executive Secretary in charge of External Relations (UNTC/DRC)

It’s finally happened. Thanks to Wallonia-Brussels International (WBI) and the General Confederation of Liberal Trade Unions of Belgium (CGSLB), the National Union of Congolese Workers (UNTC) has just put in place a support structure for motorcycle-taxi drivers in Kinshasa. The UNTC has been supporting motorcycle-taxi drivers since January 2015. During a members’ general assembly meeting in December 2015, motorcycle-taxi drivers decided to create a professional motorcycle-taxi drivers’ union affiliated with the UNTC. The new organisation is called Syndicat Professionnel des Conducteurs de Taxi Moto (SPCM/UNTC – Professional Union of Motorcycle-Taxi Drivers) and its office is located at the UNTC headquarters (Kasa-Vubu Building, 17 Avenue Kasa-Vubu, Gombe).

Project leader Guy Mpembele, head of the UNTC’s External Relations Department, explained how the project came into being. "The initiative was financed by WBI and coordinated by the CGSLB, and stemmed from the desire to extend the UNTC’s actions from the formal economy to the informal economy".

The trigger for all this was the observation that workers in the informal economy are workers, just like those in the formal economy, with the same right to trade union support to defend their social and professional interests, provide training and so on. It is worth pointing out that the UNTC’s 4th Congress, held in 2004, focused on the challenges of the informal economy. The creation of the SPCM/UNTC is simply the result of the 4th Congress’s resolutions being put into practice.

Ideally, support for workers in the informal economy will result in decent work by ensuring permanent social dialogue, guaranteeing social protection, providing access to employment and making sure that labour law is respected. After all, decent work is not just for workers in the formal economy, but also for those in informal situations, the self-employed and those working from home.

While associations of motorcycle-taxi drivers already exist in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), they neither defend nor support workers and their rights. The SPCM/UNTC is the first professional motorcycle-taxi driver union in the DRC. It is based in Kinshasa and its actions will extend across the entire country.