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Reprieve for union officials as court suspends Kandie notice

By Luke Anami | December 16th 2017
ODM Nominated MP Wilson Sossion

Top officials of trade unions got a reprieve yesterday after the Employment and Labour Relations court suspended Labour Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie’s Gazette notice that forbids them from holding other positions.

Justice Jorum Abuodha also certified as urgent an application by ODM Nominated MP Wilson Sossion, Emuhaya MP Omboko Milemba and Nyatike MP Tom Odege.

“That leave granted to act as stay of the effecting and/or implementation of the decision of the first respondent (CS Kandie) in Gazette Notice of December 13, 2017,” said Justice Abuodha in his orders issued yesterday.

Sossion is the Knut Secretary-General, while Milemba is Kuppet chairman and Odege is the Union of Kenya Civil Servants Secretary General. Eight other politicians elected in the August 8 election have also been directed to vacate their positions as union officials. The court ordered the minister be served with the order within 21 days of the notice.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli said he had instructed lawyers to file a case under a certificate of urgency. Atwoli, in a statement from the UK where he is attending a congress in his position as President of Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), told the union officials not to relinquish their positions.

“Cotu will not sit in any meeting chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and/or her agents. Once the secretary general is back from the UK, he will mobilise the entire Kenyan workforce with a view to protecting their constitutionally-given constituency and representation in Parliament by their elected leaders,” he said.

The decision to kick out the trade union leaders has elicited mixed reactions. While Jubilee’s Leader of Majority in National Assembly Aden Duale has dismissed claims that Kandie’s decision is meant to cut the Opposition to size, the trade unionists have warned they will not vacate their offices. “The Labour CS was only following the Constitution, which states that you cannot hold two political offices at the same time,” said Duale.

He added: “Sossion and his colleagues should stop politicising the matter.”

But the union leaders read mischief in Kandie’s decision. “We are not State officers. Which State department appointed us as union leaders? No state created a position of a trade union official,” said Milemba.

But Duale dismissed Milemba’s claims, arguing that Jubilee does not fear trade union leaders. “The rank and file of their membership voted for Jubilee and President Uhuru Kenyatta. We are not interested in side shows,” said Duale.

Among those gazetted as state officers include the newly installed Nyeri Governor and Knut branch Secretary Mutahi Kahiga and Baringo Governor County Stanley Kiptis.

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