21 April 2018

Kenya: Atwoli Warns MPs Against Proposed Law On Strikes

Nairobi — COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli has warned Members of Parliament against amending the Labour Relations Act 2017 that seeks to curb workers' strike in essential jobs.

Key in the proposed amendment is a requirement that Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) to indicate the minimum number of staff who remain on duty during strikes to provide essential services.

Atwoli said the proposed amendment is in bad faith and has vowed to file a petition in court against the move.

"Strike is in the bill of rights you cannot change it, you can only do away with it through a referendum and therefore workers rights must be respected," he said at a meeting with union officials ahead of the Labour Day celebrations.

The proposed amendment also wants unions to indicate the type of services that must continue during strike action and how the services will be provided.

Those targeted are doctors, nurses, clinical officers, air traffic controllers, sanitation workers, meteorologists, marine and port navigational workers, electricity service workers and telecommunication service workers.

"We must protect strikes because it helps workers to agitate for their rights. MPs should not try to pass that amendment," he said.

The move is seen as seeking to curb the increased industrial action across the country, including among doctors and nurses that affected thousands of Kenyans last year.

While Section 41(2) of the Constitution protects the right of workers to go on strike, Section 43 gives Kenyans the right to economic and social rights such as the right to healthcare services. For example, no Kenyan shall be denied the right to emergency treatment.


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