Unwarranted & Illegal Crack Down on Trade Union Leaders!

The decision by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of East Africa Community, Labour and Social Security through a gazette notice ordering  all Trade Union leaders holding political positions to resign from their elective Trade Union positions is illegal and an outright misapprehension of the spirit and letter of the Law.The cited Articles of the Constitution by the Cabinet Secretary Hon. Phylis Kandie are clear on who a state officer and/or holder of a Public Office is and for the Cabinet Secretary to simply wake up and become the interpreter of this law unto herself attests to a Cabinet Secretary hell- bent on not only intimidating and suffocating Trade Union leaders in this country but equally determined to abuse her very office with immeasurable impunity.

At the onset, the Labour Ministry is a tripartite Ministry under the International Labour Organization’s Convention Number 144 that requires constant consultations on any issues affecting either of the social partners and such grave decision to demand that a registered Trade Union official to resign his/her position because of his/her holding of a political office is a slap in the very face of this fundamental Convention protected and recognized under our National ConstitutionArticle 2 (6).

For the records, Article 77 of our Constitution does envisage that an individual cannot hold two state offices at any one time but Trade Union leaders are Not state officers because these are individuals that don’t draw any salary from the exchequer nor from any consolidated funds from the government and Trade Unions are private members’ organisation governed by their own rules and some of these positions are voluntary in nature where the holder of the office hardly draws any salary and if so such is an agreement between members and themselves and it is evident elsewhere where Members of Parliament double up as political party officials, where is the notice for these leaders to vacate office if this isn’t politics? This is outright witch-hunt meant to intimidate and harass trade unions leaders because of the political views they hold.

Article 97 (1) (c) of our Constitution gives workers a Constitutional representation in Parliament and the nomination for instance of Bro. Wilson Sossion to Parliament is pegged on this Law, hence by directing him to resign his Trade Union position amounts to disengaging him from his constituents hence where will he report back to in the absence of a worker-constituency?

There has been a precedence in this country where previous holders of the office of Secretary General, COTU (K) have been elected to Parliament and discharged such duties and these include the late Joseph Mugalla, late Dennis Akumu, late Juma Boy and even lately and under the current Constitution Provision where the late Bro. George Muchai  was a Member of Parliament and COTU (K) Deputy Secretary General as has been Hon. Ronald Tonui who has served his full-term as Member of Parliament and  re-elected. Where was the Cabinet Secretary to issue such orders for them to vacate office? What has changed all of a sudden to warrant such orders?

COTU (K) as a free, independent and responsible Trade Union organisation will not sit back and witness Trade Union leaders in this country muzzled, harassed and intimidated by any individual whether in government or not and the cited Trade Union officials should fully ignore the illegal notice by the Cabinet Secretary and remain put in their positions.

COTU (K) has already given instructions to its team of lawyers to move to Court under a certificate of urgency with a view to quashing this illegal order and in the meantime COTU (K) has suspended any form of engagement with the Labour Ministry and will not sit in any meeting chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and/or her agents and as  soon as the Secretary General who is currently in the United Kingdom meeting and addressing Trade Union Congress, TUC Delegates on Africa’s Socio- Political and Economic challenges in his position as President of Organisation of African Trade Union Unity,OATUU,  arrives back , he will mobilize the entire Kenyan workforce with a view to protecting their constitutionally given constituency and representation in Parliament by their elected leaders.

Francis Atwoli,NOM(DZA),EBS,MBS

SECRETARY GENERAL