10 April 2014

Kenya: Dock Union to Join PUSETU Amid Protest

Photo: Capital FM
COTU Secretary General, Francis Atwoli.

A section of Dock Workers Union members have threatened to oust secretary general Simon Sang for violating the union's constitution. The members, led by Salim Mwavumbo, said Sang is forcing them to join another union without their consent.

About 20 DWU members on Tuesday said Sang ditched the Central Organisation of Trade Unions for the newly launched Federation of Public Service Trade Union.

In a meeting with Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli at Whitesands hotel in Mombasa, the members accused Sang of handling the union as his own property. Sang dismissed the Mwavumbo team and dared them to go ahead and oust him.

"Those few people do not worry me. They have 139 votes against some 5,000 of ours," he told the Star on the phone on Tuesday. Sang said Mwavumbo and his team have been trying to oust him and other union leaders for almost a decade.

Mwavumbo said since DWU was formed in 1954, it has continued being a member of Cotu. He said Sang is leading them astray by forcing them into Pusetu.

"Sang is out to serve his own interests by forcing us to join another affiliation without consulting us. We will not accept this because the DWU is ours and not his property," he said.

Mwavumbo said Sang should explain why he has not called an Annual General Meeting for three years. He said Sang has always made decisions without consulting members.

Sang said the decision to ditch Cotu for Pusetu was made by the union's executive board on March 6 after sensitisation of all the union members was done for quite some time.

He denied Mwavumbo's allegations that the move to ditch Cotu is because Atwoli refused to allow him to bring in the transporters association members into DWU.

Mwavumbo said Sang brought in Kenya Ferry Services workers into DWU without their knowledge and he was in the next move to bring in transporters. Sang said Mavumbo's claims are fuelled by Atwoli, who he said is pulling all the strings to interfere with the running of the union.

"We are taking Atwoli to court next week for interfering with the union. He has no business interfering with us. DWU is now a separate entity from Cotu. We have delinked ourselves from them," Sang said.

He said article 41 of the constitution allows trade unions to choose a federation of their choice. Sang said they will invoke the International Labour Organisation convention rule 87 which protects trade unions from external interference.

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