As economic difficulties mount, trade unions have increasingly come under intense pressure, with some employers devising ways to cut their influence.
It is not unusual for new recruits in some companies and other organisations to be prevailed upon not to join unions.
This way, these employers believe they can cut their labour costs, and that it is easier if the unions are weakened.
Indeed, the glory days of trade unions dating back to the independence struggle of the early 1960s are largely gone.
However, some are still hanging in there, convinced they have a key role to play in articulating and protecting workers' rights to enhance their welfare.
It's against this backdrop that the significance of the just-ended 42nd general council meeting of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) in Nairobi can be seen. Trade unions and employers' associations may have contrasting interests, but jointly hold the key to the welfare of workers.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is also the African Union Special Envoy for Infrastructure, rightly believes that better relations between employers and workers will enable the continent achieve economic development.
It is highly unlikely that progress can be made in the absence of industrial peace.
The easiest way for employers to get the best out of their investment is to pay adequate attention to the welfare of workers by paying them decent wages and improving conditions at the workplace.
It is, therefore, in the interest of workers that investment in industry and agriculture is boosted so that more jobs can be created.
This will only be possible when unions seek to partner with employers, and not be obstacles by making unrealistic demands.
The collective bargaining system has been a useful tool in harmonising workers' demands with employers' ability to pay and enhance industrial peace and stability. This continental solidarity provides a forum through which unions can share experiences and knowledge on tackling labour challenges. Employers and workers need one another for their mutual prosperity.