The Central Organisation of Trade Unions, COTU (K) has read with constraint remarks attributed to the Governor, Kakamega County Hon. Wycliffee Ambetsa Oparanya warning county workers against joining trade unions and terming trade unionists as individuals “fighting for their own survival”.
Hon. Oparanya by these utterances exhibits an individual that belongs to the painful past of archaic, colonial and retrogressive thinking-type of management whereupon it was the norm, priority and objective for every employer to resist any form of unionization in efforts to justify his/her individual whims and impunity against the employees.
Kenya as a country has registered so many years away from this antiquated era and moved from the likes of Hon. Oparanya’s conservatism and Kenya is now one of the top most globally respected Industrial Relations Practitioner recognized by the single United Nation’s Agency on Labour, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as a country that respects due tripatism arrangements except for the recent past where a few renegade individuals within the Jubilee government acting with impunity attempted to negate the principles that lead towards respect to International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Conventions.
A similar situation can indeed be attributed to the very situation where somebody from the statehouse can boldly, without sparing a minute to engage us on the pertinent issues raised that concern workers, and proceed to call an International Labour leader from Kenya respected on the entire African Continent and beyond as an “ignorant and traditional unionist who opposes everything”. It is absurd, unfortunate that this sentiments are attributed to a person from such a respected state institution like the State House.
However, our reservations here simply borders on the dangers of what we view to be back-door retrenchment of workers through the biometric registration system deliberately introduced in a computerized system that has been in place for more than twenty years and if it is true Atwoli is ignorant and a traditional trade unionist, we leave it for the public to judge between the said State House operative alongside the Governor of Kakamega Hon. Oparanya.
COTU (K) as the umbrella worker’s body in the country has a constitutional duty to speak out on any issues affecting its members who are workers both in the public and private sectors of our economy and irrespective of who is spearheading the process of biometric registration, our position as workers is that the demands being made through this process are unrealistic and will simply lead to massive job losses among the targeted workers on flimsy grounds like failure to produce one’s initial letter of appointment among others and this remains our point of departure in demanding that this is tantamount to sacking workers through the back-door and it should be stopped.
Equally in this era of an even new Constitutional dispensation, nobody has the monopoly to shut out the rest on issues of concern to them as workers and for Hon. Oparanya to even imagine that he can dictate to his employees in total contravention of their constitutional rights and get away with it, he is absolutely and totally not in sync with the Kenya of today.
For the records, Hon. Oparanya as a governor of Kakamega County is dwelling on a very dangerous thin line when he continues to openly oppose the exercise of Collective Bargaining by the trade unions in his county knowing very well that the element of Collective Bargaining is clearly reflected in our National Constitution in the Bill of Rights Article 41 (5) and his county stands to be isolated both locally and Internationally
Francis Atwoli, EBS, MBS