UK Border Agency bars Prospect guests for 'being too poor'

Union slams UK Border Agency decision to ban Kenyan conference guests for 'being too poor'

The UK Border Agency has acted shamefully by refusing entry to the UK to two Kenyan trade unionists visiting Prospect's national conference in Bournemouth.

The two electricity workers are Agnes Wangui Githumbi, women's president of the Kenya Electricity and Allied Workers Union, and David Kirputo Songok, KETAWU's national chair. Their appeal to the UKBA, supported by Prospect, was also rejected.

Opening the conference in Bournemouth, General Secretary Paul Noon told delegates: "We have worked together with KETAWU on a common agenda for many years and it has been a positive experience, recognised by the Department for International Development. So this decision came as a great surprise. The Border Agency says Agnes and David are a flight risk, despite having return air tickets and accommodation paid for by us and even though they have families and jobs in Nairobi.

"Their real crime is that they are poor and don't have a lot of money in their bank accounts, even though they are not particularly poor by Kenyan standards. I think it's a shameful decision and I know this conference will instruct us to take the strongest possible action to protest to the government about this."

Prospect has been working with KETAWU for more than three years, and the union has hosted other visits from the union to the UK, including to its 2010 conference in Liverpool. Prospect delegations have also visited Kenya to work with KETAWU.

After a successful project, part funded by DfID, Prospect and KETAWU are now working with other aid agencies to design a new project focusing on climate change, education, health and safety and women's equality.

For more about Prospect's work with KETAWU, see: