By Stephen Makabila
As leading trade unionists deliver their messages to the Kenyan workforce during the last Labour Day ahead of the transitional General Elections, questions abound on their likely impact in shaping the next government.
Weighed-down by frustrations in their bid to improve the welfare of workers, the Central Organisation of Trade Union (Cotu) and the strongest union outside the Cotu umbrella, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) have for months been warning they would not spectate but participate fully in moulding the countryâs political destiny come the next polls.
The Head of Political Science at the University of Nairobi, Dr Adams Oloo, notes that while unions may not have direct impact on the coming polls, it would be a great boost for the person they rally behind for national leadership.
Knut national Chairman Wilson Sossion confirmed the union was closely following political developments in the country and that apart from over 50 of its branch executives going for various parliamentary seats, it would marshal teachers to rally behind a presidential candidate whose blue-print is positive to the needs of the education sector.
"Let no one take us for granted. In 2002, Knut decided to support President Kibaki and he won. This time round, we are going to rally behind one who has interests of teachers and the education sector at heart irrespective of party or ethnic affiliation," said Sossion.
"When leading presidential candidates make public their manifestoes, unionists would go for those that ensure their bread is buttered and that would be a morale booster to those being supported," Oloo noted.
Moi University law lecturer, Titus Bittok, says while workers are a force that cannot be ignored if well united, chances are they could fall to popular political wave known to emerge during elections in Kenya.
"Once they are promised improved terms of service in the manifestoes, they remain with nothing to agitate for and that could expose them to popular waves," added Bittok.
Agnes Musii, Knut executive secretary in Kyuso is targeting Vice-President Kalonzo Musyokaâs Mwingi North constituency.
Kalonzo has indicated he will not defend his parliamentary seat.