Nairobi — It was gloves off again between the Central Organisation of Trade Unions Kenya (COTU-K) and the Federation of Public Service Trade Unions (PUSETU) on Friday as they both staked a claim to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
COTU however held that PUSETU had no business involving itself in NSSF affairs as its members did not contribute to the fund.
"The unions under PUSETU, including Union of Kenya Civil Servants and KNUT (Kenya National Union of Teachers), do not contribute a single cent to NSSF," COTU-K Executive Board Member Moss Ndiema said.
Ndiema went on to dismiss PUSETU's demand for a seat on the NSSF Board of Trustees discounting their claim that they represent the largest number of workers in Kenya.
"The position of the law as it is today is that the most representative federation of trade unions will sit at the NSSF. So if PUSETU is hoping that one day they will attain the majority representation so be it," Ndiema said. "In the meantime," he added, "they are free to join us."
NSSF Chairman Adan Mohammed had argued that the term 'most representative' referred not to the number of trade unions affiliated to a federation but to the actual number of workers represented by the said federation.
"Tell the Cabinet Secretary we are not pleading, we're not requesting, we are demanding," KNUT Chairman Mudzo Nzili said of PUSETU's push to be represented on the NSSF Board of Trustees.
Ndiema also discounted PUSETU's accusation that the strike COTU called for following their Secretary General Francis Atwoli's ouster from the NSSF Board of Trustees was more about protecting his individual interests than those of workers.
He made the case that COTU was bound to call for a strike regardless, given the poor track record of Labour, Social Services and Security Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi who retired Atwoli and his Federation of Kenya Employers counterpart Jacqueline Mugo from the NSSF Board of Trustees.
"For example we're saying that the National Labour Board has never sat since the current Cabinet Secretary for Labour was appointed. He promised a wage increment during the last Labour Day and he has not made good on that promise. He hasn't even convened a proper NSSF Board meeting," Ndiema enumerated.
PUSETU, he said, should therefore stop being, "busy in hotels defending illegalities," cut its ties to Kambi and focus its energies instead on addressing the threatened retrenchment of public service workers.
COTU-K has time and again accused PUSETU of being Kambi puppeteered and it's no secret that there is no love lost between the two federations.
An acrimonious relationship that was in full glare during the last Labour Day celebrations when they fought over who would organise the national celebrations.
A round COTU-K won, locking out PUSETU, despite Kambi's assertion that, "Labour Day is not a COTU-K franchise."
A case between Atwoli, FKE's Jacqueline Mugo and Kambi over their ouster from the NSSF board is pending before the courts.