15 April 2014

Kenya: COTU 'Locks' Labour Day Venues to Frustrate Rival

Photo: Capital FM
COTU Secretary General, Francis Atwoli.

Nairobi — The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) says it has secured venues in most towns in the country in readiness for Labour Day celebrations, in a move aimed at locking out the newly launched Federation of Public Service Trade Unions (PUSETU).

COTU executive board member Francis Wangara says they will not allow PUSETU to meddle with the celebrations, after the new union announced plans to organise the fete.

"We have been told that PUSETU is pushing to organise Labour Day... COTU has already hired venues for the celebrations countrywide," he affirmed.

Addressing a press conference in Kisumu on Tuesday morning, Wangara said they will ensure they maintain their dominance in the Labour Day celebrations.

He even asked PUSETU to plan their celebrations elsewhere and let Kenyans decide on where they would want to attend and celebrate, saying it will be a popularity contest between the two unions since they have also invited the Head of State among other dignitaries.

PUSETU was launched on April 8 by the Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi who made it clear that PUSETU had not been created to overshadow the Francis Atwoli-led COTU but is instead out to complement its operations.

"There is no war at all; the only worry is that now PUSETU is doing what COTU has been doing all along; the only difference is that I can see improvement particularly when it comes to dealing with the government," said the Labour Secretary.

"This country belongs to all of us, let us stop this chest thumping and being egocentric. The resources we have as a country are enough for all of us, the problem is that some of us are greedy because they believe in 'I, myself and me'," he added.

Kambi said the days when COTU was left to monopolise the labour movement are long gone, and urged Atwoli to stop panicking.

"We are here to launch a second umbrella labour movement. For the first time we are today witnessing the formal recognition of a second giant union. It is undisputed that for too long, COTU has enjoyed the privileged monopoly and comfort of representing," he enthused.

"The ministry will continue to encourage this competition and effective representation of workers' interests," Kambi asserted.

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