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COTU rejects Labour Relations Bill

The  Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) has asked Parliament to reject the Labour Relations Bill 2019.

The  COTU Secretary General, Francis  Atwoli  said the bill sponsored by the government was unconstitutional and contained clauses aimed at weakening the trade union movement.

He pointed out the classification of workers where those offering essential services shall be barred from going on strike as an infringement of workers’ rights.

“You cannot refuse to pay employees’ salaries and expect them to just sit there and not go on strike in the name of offering essential services. We are all offering essential services and contributing to the development of this country,” he said.

The government, he said targets to use the clause to bar civil servants offering essential services against picketing in a renewed effort to tame industrial unrest in government.

The bill, he added required all civil servants to seek authority of the Principal Secretary before joining a trade union, which he said, was aimed at weakening the unions.

“Trade unions are independent bodies and cannot be controlled by the government,” he said.

The proposed bill, he said was archaic and would erode the gains made in the labour movement in the country over the years.

Speaking  at Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu on Wednesday, the COTU boss said if the bill is passed with the contentious clauses, Kenya risked sanctions from the International Labour Organisation.

The  clauses, he said are in contravention of International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions to which Kenya is a signatory.

Atwoli  asked Members of Parliament (MP’s) to reject the bill in order to safeguard the welfare of workers in the country.

COTU, he  said  will move to court to annul the legislation if it sails through Parliament.

By  Chris Mahandara

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