22 April 2014

Kenya: Labour Day Venue Undecided, Admits Kambi

Photo: Capital FM
COTU Secretary General, Francis Atwoli.

Nairobi — Uncertainty reigned over the official national Labour Day celebration venue on Tuesday, when Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi revealed that the Executive was yet to decide on the matter.

Kambi's revelation came amid reports that the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) and the Federation of Public Service Trade Unions (PUSETU) were organising independent events.

"We've not decided on the venue. You wait for that. But l'll be where all the workers are represented; all the employers are represented and the government is represented," he said.

As a show of his determination, he said a steering committee had been formed to settle on a venue and to organise the event with just eight days left to May 1.

"We have formed a steering committee to deal with that. They have to sit down and come up with a venue which is going to be accepted by all the parties. So it's not a one man issue. They (COTU and PUSETU) have no choice anyway by the way, they have to work together," he said laughing.

He was however careful not to come off as supporting one faction over the other and instead called on the unions to work together with his ministry and employers in the Labour Day preparations.

"I have a lot of respect for (COTU boss Francis) Atwoli because he does represent the private sector. I have a lot of respect for PUSETU because it does represent most of the public sector. So we have to work together. But we don't have two parallel celebrations," he insisted.

On Sunday PUSETU Vice-Chairman Sammy Kubasu told Capital FM News that COTU's move to lock them out of the official Labour Day celebrations, by booking all the major venues, was in consequential.

"They say that they have secured all the venues but let me tell you that they are all open to the public and I can assure you that we as PUSETU will fully participate in the Labour Day celebrations," he said.

During last year's Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park, President Uhuru Kenyatta raised the minimum wage by 14 percent amid concern from the Federation of Kenyan Employers (FKE) that the move was not practical.

"Continued annual review of minimum wages amounts to over compensation of labour at the cost of capital and the consumer," FKE Chairman Erastus Mwongera complained.

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