The government has directed all trade unions in the country to carry out elections starting January next year.
A circular from the Registrar of Trade Unions E.N. Gichema further directs the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) to ensure national elections are held before August 30 2021.
“I would like to remind all trade unions, employers’ organisations and federations that the last elections were held in the year 2016 and the next elections are the due next year 2021,” states the circular in part.
“Consequently, therefore, all trade unions, employers’ organisations, and federations and their branches shall be required to carry out elections; branch elections from January 4 2021 to March 31, 2021, and National elections from April 1, 2021, to 31st June 2021”.
The election of officials has often been marred with legal disputes between the numerous trade unions and the state, and highlight the high stakes involved in the representation of the millions of workers’ welfare.
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In the last elections, the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) sued the registrar of trade unions for declining to register the outfit.
KNUN said its National Executive Council had resolved to carry out branch and national elections. The union however carried out branch elections in all but 39 branches and failed to conduct National elections leading to the decision by the registrar to withhold its registration.
The union eventually won the case on appeal by arguing that the circular directing all trade unions to carry out elections was illegal and the order conflicted with trade unions’ own constitutions.
Next years’ elections come amid rising discontent among workers that have been hard hit with layoffs and salary cuts following the outbreak of the COVID 19 coronavirus pandemic and the clamour for the top seats is likely to be heightened.
“It is imperative that all trade unions, employers’ organisations, and federations operate strictly within the provisions of their registered constitutions and more specifically, ensure conformity in terms of notice to all members of the date, time, and venue of the elections,” Mrs. Gichema’s circular reads in part.
Trade unions have further been instructed to update their branch and national member registers and submit the required documentation 60 days before their elections.