18 November 2012

Kenya: Yes! We Need a Union, Say Police Officers

The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) has given the government a seven-day ultimatum to allow the registration of a police union. COTU ... ( Resource: Kenyan Govt Urged to Allow Police Union )

Nairobi — Police officers have welcomed calls by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) to have a union registered to help them champion their grievances.

"We have suffered for a long time. We need a union to air our grievances," a police officer based in Nairobi told Capital FM News soon after COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli made the announcement demanding the registration of a union within a week.

"It is long overdue. We are the only ones who do not have a union yet all other civil servants have a union. We are paid by the government... how different are we from other civil servants?" another police officer asked speaking on condition of anonymity.

Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe was not immediately available for comment on COTU's demand but his deputy Charles Owino has previously stated that police officers are barred from joining unions because they are members of the disciplined forces.

The call by COTU comes at time when more than 600 police officers deployed to Baragoi to search for bandits who killed their colleagues complained of working under appalling conditions and without proper remuneration.

"In such an operation, we are supposed to be given special allowances because it is a unique operation. But we have not been given anything. Some officers have been sent here from other provinces but all they are being given are food rations.

On Saturday, a team of senior police officers dispatched to review the progress of the security operation were confronted by numerous complaints from junior police officers who said they had not received a penny since the operation started.

"Other than the food rations, we are not being given anything else, not even money to buy soap," one officer involved in the operation told Capital FM News.

He said provision of water is also alien to those in charge.

The team from Vigilance House led by Deputy Commissioner of Police Jonathan Kosgey assured the officers that they will get proper remuneration.

A senior police officer told Capital FM News funds running into millions of shillings had been allocated for the logistical support.

"In such operations, a lot is required to be done. There is fuel required for the vehicles, allowances for the officers, food and various other expenses including money to gather intelligence," the senior officer said, although he could not place a definite figure to it. "It is a substantial allocation because of the seriousness the government is putting on the matter."

A combined force of the military, regular and Administration Police are involved in the operation to track down Turkana militiamen who ambushed 107 police officers sent to recover stolen animals from manyattas around Suguta Valley last Saturday.

By Saturday, the death toll from the ambush stood at 48 after two more bodies, decomposed beyond recognition were recovered late on Friday.

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