STATEMENT BY COTU(K) SECRETARY GENERAL BRO. ATWOLI AT THE ILO CONFERENCE IN GENEVA
BRO. FRANCIS ATWOLI, NOM(DZA), EBS, MBS, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE CENTRAL
ORGANIZATION OF TRADE UNIONS (K)
THE 105TH SESSION OF THE INTERNATIONAL LABOUR CONFERENCE
ON 3RD JUNE, 2016
The Two Vice Presidents
ILO Director General
Ladies and Gentlemen
- Allow me to first and foremost congratulate you Mr. President for your election together with your vice presidents to steer the affairs of this years Conference. We in COTU (K) are convinced that you will succeed in your mandate and enable the Conference to achieve its objectives.
- COTU (K) welcomes the Director Generals Report on, The End to Poverty Initiative the ILO and the 2030 Agenda, for its relevancy and timelines to our contemporary world of work. The 2030 agenda for sustainable development adopted by the UN general assembly in September 2015 largely mirrors the values and principles that the ILO has stood for since its founding in 1919 and the cause of Social Justice which is the reason for its existence.
- It is also an affirmation of our own decent work agenda through which we sought to transform the world of work. The 17 goals and the 169 targets which underpin the 2030 agenda all contain certain decent work elements and hence the need to ILO to intensify its partnership, Cooperation and engagement with the UN multilateral frameworks, International Financial Institutions, social partners and other players in the implementation of the Agenda.
- We note the decent work implications of the 2030 agenda and the challenges they pose, and agree that its only through full and committed involvement of tripartite partners that can successfully implement the same, we therefore support the reports analysis of what the ILO and its tripartite partners have done so far.
- Luckily, for us in the ILO, we have already covered considerable ground and are clear on the path to sustainable development. What remains now is for the organization to assist member states to replicate the agenda in our respective national development strategies so as to ensure the visibility of decent work elements in such policy frameworks and outcomes.
- Contrary to previous practice in national policy making, development, implementation, monitoring and planning in many countries particularly in the developing world like ours, we want to have strong presence and participation of the Ministries of Labour, Employment, planning and finance as well as Workers and Employers organizations in a multi-stakeholders arrangements as noted in the report. The added value of engagement of workers and employers organizations along side ministries of labour is to ensure that they bring their practical knowledge on board and experience of the world of work and increase capacity for independent monitoring of progress and accountability for results.
- In Kenya, the Constitution provides for public consultations in policy making including the budgetary process. However, this does not always translate into full integration of social partners views in such policy agendas however good they may be; we therefore agree with the reports proposal for increased policy space for social partners in order to help in positioning decent work elements and sustainable development agendas at the heart of macro-economic strategies of our countries.
- Towards this end, we agree that there is need for urgent capacity building of workers and employers organizations in order to enable us to effectively engage other interested parties and players in Industrial relation practices in the envisaged national strategies, preparations and with full and broad-based social partners ownership and support.
- COTU (K) commends the work done by ILO in ensuring that a specific decent work goal is included in the 2030 agenda. Goal no. 8 on the promotion of all inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, indeed stands at the heart of the agenda. The goal emphasizes a balanced growth that guarantees fair outcomes for all.
- Social progress and social justice must be key ingredients of economic growth and hence the reason why workers representatives and employers organizations must be key participants in the implementation of the agenda.
- It is therefore in this context, that the Central Organization of Trade Unions, COTU (K) is opposed to the application of the productivity measurement concept in wage determination in Kenya. Largely because of our national situation and circumstances, which lacks the necessary enabling institutional framework and inadequate facilities to determine productivity indices for various economic sectors, we cannot therefore blindly accept a proposal by Kenyan employers to peg wages on productivity when Kenya lacks a full-fledged and economically equipped productivity centre. We therefore call upon the ILO to assist in setting up such a productivity centre in Kenya.
- COTU (K) thus takes this opportunity to thank our President H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta for his decision immediately after Labour Day celebrations to call for tax exemption on all overtime payment, bonus and retirement benefits for unionised and lowly paid workers in Kenya as part of cushioning their incomes and standard of living.
- In the same spirit we wish to call upon him and his government to ensure that workers pension funds under the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the Health Insurance funds under the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) are protected from mismanagement by the politically connected appointees.
- Lastly Mr President, we appeal to the ILO to urgently intervene and ask the Kenya Government to order the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to stop withholding union dues for the teachers unions in Kenya illegally on flimsy grounds geared towards punishing the unions leadership. It is illegal in law and practice as it negates the ILO principles on tripartism arrangements as per the ILO Convention 144.
I Thank you.