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Let us work in harmony, Labour CS appeals to trade unionists

Ministry of Labor and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Amb. Ukur Yatani Wednesday said that there was need for an amendment of the existing labor laws, saying that they were outdated and did not adequately serve the purpose.
Speaking in Nairobi during a stakeholder’s forum with Secretaries General and CEO/Chairpersons of Registered Trade Unions, Yatani said that the labour laws should be aligned to the 2010 constitution, because the current ones had been overtaken by events.
“Such amendments will ensure that the laws are modernized in such a way that they are more dynamic to the needs of the common workers,” said the CS, while also proposing that there is need to appoint a standing committee to move the labour sector forward.
CS further reiterated the need for a unity of purpose between his ministry and the Trade Unions and extended his full support to the latter, insisting that he could only succeed when he worked together with them, while admitting that relationship with them have been frosty.
Central Organization of Trade Unions Secretary General, Francis Atwoli however said that in as much as the union supports amendments to the labour laws, caution should be taken that laws formulated should meet international standards.
Atwoli was firm that such amendments also need wide consultations before the process begins and cautioned against mass amendments, saying that this might take the labour industry back to colonial rules if not carefully done.
He further called on the CS to ensure that there is an enabling environment for workers in the country, further raising concern on the underfunding that has been the norm in the ministry.
“It is the responsibility of any able government to take care of its workers. Poor wages is an indirect slavery,” he asserted, while decrying the existence of foreigners who get work permits to do jobs in the Country which can otherwise be done by Kenyans.
Trade Union Congress of Kenya Deputy Secretary General, Dr. Charles Mukhwaya reiterated Atwoli’s sentiments on the need to take extra care while amending the existing laws so as not to kill the unions.
“Labour laws were enacted in 2007.Let us not overhaul but make only relevant changes that will align it to Constitution 2010,”he said.
Among other issues raised by the Trade unionists were the House Fund which is in the 2017/18 budget and which if approved will see a certain percentage deducted from salaries go to the fund.
“This is a monumental mistake. No one has a right to anyone’s salary and we cannot accept as it will cause industrial disturbance because no consultation was done. As workers we are prepared to resist,” said Mukhwaya.
They further called for the scrapping of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission saying that it was the reason that so many strikes have been witnessed in the Country in the recent past.
“This is the monster creating strikes in this Country as it is colluding with the employer to deny us the Collective Bargaining Agreements,” said UASU Secretary General, Dr. Constantine Wasonga.
Majority of the trade unionists shared the same view that for labour sector to thrive they needed more of respect to the existing laws rather than make any further amendments.
By Alice Gworo

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