Atwoli rejects bid to impose term limits on union officials

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli addresses the media at COTU Offices, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

The umbrella workers union has opposed the new Labour Relations Amendment Bill that was introduced by Migori Senator, Eddy Oketch.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary General Francis Atwoli said the Bill goes against principles of trade unions.

“This ill-conceived and retrogressive Bill seeks to impose term limits on trade unions and employers federation officials," he said.

Atwoli said the proposals stand against the principles of free and independent trade unions as clearly advocated for by the International Labour Organisation Convention.

He maintained that, just like political parties, trade unions should operate without term limits, as long as they represent the interests of their members.

"...in this case, representing the interests of workers across various sectors in Kenya."

Atwoli said that Senator Oketch did not regard the terms and conditions of trade unions’ operations, before introducing the Bill.

“It is evident that the first-term senator needs to spend more time familiarising himself with the workings of the Senate, particularly with regard to the autonomy and independence of trade unions. Rather than talking about issues that are hitherto of no interest to the many Kenyans servicing and sustaining his stay at Senate,” he said.

He emphasized the freedom and independence of trade unions, saying that their operations are guided by their constitutions that establish internal democratic processes.

Atwoli committed to defend the rights of trade unions in Kenya.

He called on Senator Oketch to withdraw the Bill and instead engage the National Labour Board to come up with meaningful amendments, if need be, abiding with Labour laws.

“Senator Oketch must remember that trade unions fought so hard for this country’s independence and the freedoms that he, and indeed other senators, enjoy,” he said.

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