Francis Atwoli

Francis Atwoli; (born 6 June 1949) is a Kenyan Trade Unionist who is currently serving as the Secretary General of the Central Organization of Trade Unions (Kenya) (COTU). Atwoli is one of the most flamboyant trade unionist and defender of workers’ rights in Kenya. In the political landscape, he strides like a colossus and is perhaps the most influential personality outside the Presidency. He has served in that capacity, since he was first elected in 2001.[1]


Francis Atwoli
Born (1949-06-06) 6 June 1949 (age 72)
Alma materCavendish University Uganda
National Labor College
University of Turin
OccupationTrade Unionist
Years active1967–present
TitleSecretary general of the Central Organization of Trade Unions of Kenya.


In his role as a representative of Kenyan workers, Atwoli has expressed criticism of politicians on issues such as their refusal to pay taxes on their allowances, and dabbling in corruption. He has also been critical of non-governmental bodies and global institutions including the World Bank, interfering with labor disputes. He openly supports police officers when they advocate for the creation of a police officers’ union.[2]

  • 2001 – to-date: Secretary General of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions Kenya.
  • 1994 – to-date: General Secretary of the Kenya Plantation & Agricultural Workers Union.
  • 1986 – 1994: Director of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions, Kenya.
  • 1971 – 1986: Branch Secretary, Union of Posts and Telecommunication Employees.
  • 1967 – 1986: Senior Technician at Kenya Posts & Telecommunication Corporation.

Atwoli's chief achievement was getting a street named after him in May 2021, which was immediately vandalized and uprooted. Atwoli then lobbied the city government to reinstall the sign and a CCTV camera to monitor further vandalization attempts. Due to his unpopularity the street sign was destroyed several more times, prompting Atwoli to pay jobless youths in order to protect it. Some observers, particularly on social media, noted that the entire event represented an especially offensive type of resource wastage given the government's inability to solve crimes committed against regular citizens. Still, others have noted that given Atwoli's rather unimpressive record as a trade unionist, the employment created by repeatedly reinstalling the street sign might be the only positive contribution he has made to Kenyan workers' lives.

Elected positions and appointmentsEdit

Francis Atwoli's Positions of Responsibility
Dates Position Notes
2014 to date Elected the President of the Pan African Labour movement, the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, OATUU
2008 to date Elected as Member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization, (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland
2011 to date Elected Board Member of Training Centre of the International Labour Organization in Turin, Italy
2001 to date Member, Board of Trustees at the National Social Security Fund (Kenya) (NSSF)
2001 to date Council Member of National Industrial Training Authority of Kenya (NITA)
2001 to 2010 Member of National Aids Control Council of Kenya (NACC)
2001 to 2007 Elected Vice President of the former ICFTU-AFRO in Nairobi, Kenya
2003 to date Elected every year as Director of National Bank of Kenya
2003 to 2009 Director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC)
2004 to date Member of National Labour Board of Kenya
2005 to date Elected Deputy President of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) based in Accra, Ghana
2005 to date Elected President of Trade Union Federation of Eastern Africa (TUFEA) based in Khartoum, Sudan
2005 to date Elected Executive Board Member and now serving Vice President of International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC, based in Brussels, Belgium
2005 to date Elected Chairman of East African Trade Union Confederation (EATUC) based in Arusha, Tanzania

Other considerationsEdit

In addition to his responsibilities at COTU, Francis Atwoli has the following additional responsibilities:

  • Independent Non-Executive Director, National Bank of Kenya
  • Chairman, East African Trade Union Confederation
  • President, Trade Union Federation of Eastern Africa
  • President, Organisation of African Trade Union Unity
  • Member, Governing Body, International Labour Organization
  • Vice President, International Labour Conference
  • Vice President, The International Trade Union Confederation[3][4]
  • Secretary General, Kenya Plantation & Agricultural Workers Union


He is a recipient of both the Elder of the Burning Spear (EBS) and the Moran of the Burning Spear, (MBS) awards in recognition of his role in Championing for Social Justice.

Masinde Muliro of University of Science and Technology awarded Atwoli with an honorary Doctorate of humane letter D. Litt.


Mr. Atwoli is married to Three wives, Jenifer Khainza Atwoli Roselinder Simiyu And Mary Kilobi, <ref name="6R">{{cite web|url= |title=This man Atwoli: A loyal wife, a Sh5 million gold watch and 17 children |newspaper=The Star (Kenya) |date=16 August 2018 |access-date=24 FebruaryGreat for Atwoli


  1. ^ COTU Kenya (2019). "The History of The Central Organization of Trade Unions, COTU (Kenya): Francis Atwoli of KPAWU Elected COTU Secretary General". Nairobi: Central Organization of Trade Unions (Kenya) (COTU Kenya). Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  2. ^ Barasa, Lucas (1 May 2009). "Atwoli pushes for creation of union to champion police officers' rights". Daily Nation. Nairobi: Nation Media Group. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  3. ^ Keter, Gideon (6 June 2013). "Atwoli lands key position in Geneva". The Star (Kenya). Nairobi. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  4. ^ Standard Reporter (8 December 2018). "Francis Atwoli bags fouth [sic] term at agency". The Standard (Kenya). Nairobi. Retrieved 24 February 2019.

External linksEdit