Dr Atwoli Speech Labour Day 2020
SPEECH BY DR. BRO FRANCIS ATWOLI, NOM(DZA)EBS, MBS
DURING THE 55TH INTERNATIONAL LABOUR DAY EVENT ON 01ST MAY, 2020
His Excellency The President and Commander In-Chief of the Defense Forces of the Republic of Kenya Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, C.G.H.
The Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Labour & Social Protection Hon. Simon Chelugui, CBS
The Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Labour & Social Protection Hon. Patrick Ole Ntutu
The Principal Secretary of Labour, Eng. Peter Tum, OGW,
Honourable Cabinet Secretaries Present
Executive Director, Federation of Kenya Employers, FKE Sis. Jacqueline Mugo, MBS, OGW
• Foremost Your Excellency, let me take this rare opportunity to congratulate you for your exceptional acceptance immediately we wrote inviting you to preside over the 55th International Labour Day Celebrations at Uhuru Park.
• Fortunately, here you are Your Excellency and let me recognize the fact that throughout your presidency, you have stood with workers and at no one time have you left workers to be on their own. Thank you Your Excellency.
• Let me also congratulate all Kenyan workers together with their families on this occasion of the 55th International Labour Day.
• This year’s Labour Day will be remembered for many years to come given the difficult and challenging global health circumstances under which it is being communicated without celebrations.
• We pay our special tribute to all those workers who have lost their lives to the Coronavirus Pandemic and for those who have tested positive and hospitalized, we wish you quick recovery.
• For the first time in our long history, Labour Day world-over is taking place behind closed doors with limited participation of government, workers, employers including the general public owing to the insurgence of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) which came as a mysterious intruder into the world of work.
• However, this Pandemic is no coincidence; God is sending us a message that after days of weeping, and if we listen to him and continue praying, there shall be joy but only if we can as a people change our general feelings towards humanity that might have angered our Almighty God.
• Your Excellency, allow me on behalf of millions of Kenyan workers, locally and abroad, to commend you and your government for the stringent measures that you have put in place to mitigate the negative effects of the virus and also your able Cabinet Secretary for Health Hon. Mutahi Kagwe for the good job he has so far exhibited together with his team.
• Indeed this shows your total commitment to save this nation, you mean well for Kenyans, Your Excellency.
• Let me also take this moment to thank those employers who have kept workers in full employment despite the pandemic and particularly those who have gone ahead to enter into separate agreements with their respective unions to ensure no worker losses employment as per your directive Your Excellency.
• We thank the Landlords as well particularly those who have accepted and allowed their tenants to stay either on half rent or without paying rent at all as they (Landlords) express their solidarity with the government.
• COTU(K)’s special thanks as well goes to our medical personnel, our Doctors, Nurses, Clinical Officers, Lab technicians, cleaners in our health facilities, Police Officers among others who have all put their lives on line for the sake of Kenyans affected by this pandemic. Truly we can’t thank you enough. May God Bless You All.
• Let me also appreciate the important role that the various companies across the country have played in terms of supply of face masks and other related equipments in mitigating the Pandemic.
• Your Excellency, no doubt as a country just like the rest of the Global Community, we expect an unprecedented economic meltdown that will see a slow performance in the world economy but we promise to join hands with both the government and employers to examine the post corona virus period and we are optimistic that with the strong solidarity we have today, we will rebuild our economy in the shortest possible time.
• Meanwhile, we wish to thank particularly those leaders that have stood with you Your Excellency side by side as you steer this country to greater heights; we are also alive to the Agenda we had prior to this pandemic and it must succeed for our prosperity as a Nation.
BUILDING BRIDGES INITIATIVE
• On a day like this in 2017, Your Excellency we proposed to Kenyans to accept to review our constitution particularly in the area of governance which has been a source of political troubles, misunderstandings and violence. When problems occur, it is workers, women and children who suffer.
• We are glad that this agenda was finally mooted out of the famous handshake and dubbed Building Bridges Initiative that aims at relooking at our Constitution afresh.
• As Trade Unions and workers, we have already submitted our memorandum to the BBI team with regard to this demand and we are proposing a change in our governance structure where we have a President, a Vice President, a Prime Minister with two Deputy Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers to be appointed among the elected Members of Parliament so that our August House can have ministers within who can answer questions and defend government policies on behalf of the Kenyan people.
SALARIES AND REMUNERATION COMMISSION, (SRC)
• As workers Your Excellency, we are deeply concerned with the manner in which the, SRC is exercising its role.
• The Commission has deliberately continued to interfere with all Collective Bargaining Agreements, CBAs that the Unions have freely negotiated with the Employers especially those affecting parastatals and related government agencies.
• While the SRC role was to advise as per our 2010 Constitution, the Commission has since abdicated this role and usurped the responsibilities of social partners under tripartism arrangements to negotiate for salaries and fix wages and allowances for Workers without consulting social partners.
• This move Your Excellency by the Commission is in total contravention of our own legislations governing employee/ employer relations as well as the International Labour Organization, Conventions 87 and 98.
• Indeed we are optimistic that through the BBI Initiative, the SRC will be disbanded and removed from the list of Independent Commissions since Kenya boasts of a robust economy and a competitive business environment that is capable of regulating itself through its own market forces if we can tame corruption.
TOM MBOYA LABOUR COLLEGE, KISUMU
• Your Excellency, in our efforts to transform the Tom Mboya Labour College, Kisumu to a world class institution that can offer training for workers locally and globally, COTU (K) has embarked on its renovation work that is half-way complete and now on halt due to the current Coronavirus Pandemic.
• We have since spent over Kshs. 120,000,000 (Kshs.120M) on this work from our own internal sources and whereas I wish to thank the Government for its earlier support in financing the first Phase of the College’s Resource Centre, we are optimistic that your government will consider completing the second and last Phase of this important Centre for workers’ education since an educated worker creates stability and industrial peace at work place.
NATIONAL SOCIAL SECURITY FUND, NSSF
• Your Excellency, let me thank your government for the tremendous support it has given to the Board of Trustees and Management at NSSF in protecting workers’ funds.
• Today, the Fund now boasts of a Kshs. 300 Billion portfolio in assets and cash at hand and this growth has been as a result of your personal intervention in ensuring that there is no political interference in the running of the Fund.
• You exhibited this when you reorganized the Ministry of Labour because of NSSF in 2015.
• However, Your Excellency, we are concerned over the numerous attempts by individual politicians to amend the NSSF Act of 2013 so that they can remove both FKE and COTU (K) from the Board of Trustees for their own selfish ends and we call for your intervention to continue protecting these funds.
NATIONAL HOSPITAL INSURANCE FUND, NHIF
• Your Excellency, let me thank you and your government for the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer at the NHIF.
• As workers, we call on the new CEO to remain firm and not fall victim to politicians who are out to loot the NHIF as they did under the previous CEO and to the period preceding 2017 elections.
• We are ready to extend our support to the new CEO in ensuring that he discharges his duties without any political interference and mismanagement.
REPOSSESSION OF GRABBED PARCELS OF LAND
• Your Excellency, we thank you and your government for the bold step you have taken to repossess any grabbed land in the country particularly the recent move to repossess the Ruai Sewerage Land.
• This has send a very strong message to all those grabbers and those who occupy grabbed land across the country that it is just a matter of time that their ill-gotten parcels of public land will revert back to the rightful owners who are the Kenyan people.
• We urge your government not to relent in these efforts as the entire Kenyan citizens are behind you.
ORGANISATION OF AFRICAN TRADE UNION UNITY, OATUU
• Your Excellency, as the President of our Pan-African Organisation of African Trade Union Unity, OATUU let me take this opportunity on behalf of the workers on the continent to humbly thank you and your government for the commitment to contribute an annual Grant of USD. 200,000.
• We are pleased to inform you, Your Excellency, that already the first contribution of USD. 200,000 is in the process of being transferred to the organisation and once it is received, we will equally inform you. We thank you; Your Excellency.
• Your Excellency, we thank you for the so many cautionary measures you have taken to cushion workers on the cost of living and other hardships including food to the workers who are facing numerous difficulties during this period of Coronavirus pandemic.
• However, Your Excellency we appeal to you that as you continue to protect us from this Pandemic, consider extending your offer to workers for tax exemptions from Kshs. 24,000 that you gave us up to Kshs. 100,000 as this will go a long way in cushioning most of the lowly placed Kenyans and any other support you may deem fit as a worker number one.
• We will continue to support you despite these difficult times we find ourselves in and we are now afraid and unable to make any demands for a Minimum Wage increase as we have always done.
• However, for now we want to thank you for the various measures you continue to take to assist workers both logistically and financially in mitigating the effects of Coronavirus and don’t get tired on the same.
• I thank you.