Two trade unions have backed decision by the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General, Francis Atwoli to work with President William Ruto's government.
The Kenya National Private Security Workers Union (KNPSWU) and the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) said that Atwoli was acting in the best interest of the workers and that he could not advocate for their rights if he was opposed to the government.
They were responding to criticism from Azimio leader Raila Odinga, who accused Atwoli of joining the government and neglecting workers during the burial service of COTU chairman Rajab Mwondi in Hamisi Constituency, Vihiga County.
KNPSWU Secretary General Isaac Andabwa, who spoke in Kakamega, said that Atwoli’s move was timely and well informed.
“We cannot advocate and champion the rights of workers when we the leaders are against the government. Atwoli’s move was in the best interest of the workers so he could fight for trade unions in the country while working with the government of the day and Raila will not bring development or improve the worker’s welfare but rather it is President William Ruto,”said Andabwa.
He added that politics and trade movement go hand in hand and that under COTU, they had achieved a lot in terms of collective bargaining agreements since Atwoli started working with Ruto’s administration.
Andabwa also said that Kenya had the most friendly labor laws in Africa and that Raila should not accuse Atwoli of siding with the government when he was on his side before.
He said he was keen on championing good terms for security guards in Kenya and that he was in talks with the president to ensure their grievances were implemented.
KNUN Secretary General Seth Panyako dismissed Raila’s assertion that being in government meant they could not voice their grievances or defend workers.
“Being in government does not mean we cannot voice our grievances nor defend workers. Those thinking so should know that we will defend and stand with our workers as we have done before as we push for development, therefore those accusing Atwoli are misadvised,” said Panyako.
He said that Tom Mboya and Bildad Kagia, who were prominent trade unionists and politicians, came from the government and that they would push for workers’ interests and better terms while in government.
Andabwa also urged the president to fast-track and finish the process of settling Mautuma Central squatters initiated by the late President Daniel Moi and ensure they have full title deeds. He said that the process was full of corruption and that some politicians and administrators had grabbed some land meant for the squatters.
He said that this delay had caused their region to remain behind in poverty and crime and that they wanted Ruto to assist them.
He welcomed Ruto’s five-day working tour in the Western region, terming it a success for launching projects like the expansion of Kakamega Airstrip to an Airport, plans to revive the ailing sugar sector by writing off debts bedeviling Mumias Sugar factory and Nzoia sugar.
He also called for the naming of Kakamega Airport to Dr. William Ruto International Airport in his honor for holding a rally there.
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