High cost of fuel will inflict more pain on Kenyans, COTU says

Central Organization of Trade Union (COTU) Deputy Secretary General Benson Okwaro. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

 The Central Organization of Trade Union (COTU) has warned increasing cost of fuel in the country will expose employed and non-employed Kenyans to more suffering.

The Union says the latest review of fuel prices that has sparked various reactions will change the prices of other basic commodities in the market.

For this reason, Deputy Secretary General Benson Okwaro has appealed to the government to think of not only addressing the cost of fuel but also the high cost of living in general.

‘‘Unless the government gets a way to cushion workers by giving a corresponding 50 per cent wage increment,” Okwaro stated.

Okwaro stated that if the government does not heed the calls of workers and Kenyans at large, the union will resort to industrial action.

‘‘They have to give us something to cushion our members, if not, we will convene a meeting with all trade unions so that we resist this kind of manoeuvre of the government,’’ Okwaro stated.

In its latest review, EPRA increased fuel prices with petroleum going up by Sh16.96 per litre, diesel Sh21.32 and kerosene Sh33.13 to sell at Sh211.64, Sh201 and Sh202.13 respectively in Nairobi.

Cotu’s First Assistant Secretary-General Ernest Nadome said workers are no longer productive but in pain working.

‘‘The Kenyan worker is suffering. We are bearing the brunt of all the taxes, we are absorbing the high cost of living, we are working for the sake of struggling to pay bills,’’ Nadome said.

County Governments Workers Union Secretary General Roba Duba blamed the government for keeping a deaf ear to the concerns which were raised by leaders.

‘‘The way to address the cost of living is through negotiation even where the employer is unable to award an increase demanded by unions,’’ Duba said.