NSSF Board stopped from doing business pending COTU petition

NSSF Board has been stopped from transacting any business pending a petition filed by COTU. [File, Standard]

The High Court has ordered the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Board to stop all meetings or business transactions, pending the determination of a case filed by the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU).

COTU had moved to court demanding that Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui gazettes its nominee to the NSSF Board, Rose Omamo.

Employment and Labour Relations Court judge Monica Mbaru has set January 17 as the date for mention of the case.

COTU has listed Labour CS Chelugui, Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki and the NSSF Board of Trustees as the first, second and third respondents respectively.

COTU boss Francis Atwoli, in a statement dated Wednesday, January 4, said the judge’s order essentially stops NSSF from advertising or hiring any staff that require the Board’s input.

"The hiring, as advertised by NSSF, can only happen when the NSSF Board and various committees, including HR committee, are legally constituted after the gazettement of Omamo,” said Atwoli.

A similar tussle occurred in 2018 when COTU sounded an alarm over its exclusion from the NSSF Board of Trustees.

COTU warned the Ministry of Labour against excluding social partners, stating that doing so contravened international labour laws.

At the time, a gazette notice failed to include the union’s representative to NSSF, Damaris Muhika.

COTU is supposed to have two representatives at the NSSF Board.

Atwoli, at the time, said he had made countless appeals to the then-Labour CS Ukur Yattani (now at Treasury in same capacity) to gazette the union’s representative to NSSF.

“The government wants to do away with the representation of workers at NSSF,” Ernest Nadome, COTU’s first Assistant Secretary-General, said at the time.

“The role of the government is to only own the money in trust. When it comes to oversight and managing those funds, that particular responsibility should rest on workers' and employers’ representatives,” he added.

Atwoli had, in April of that year, warned that COTU would call for a mass withdrawal of workers and employers from NSSF should its representatives and those of the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) be kicked out of the board.

This is after MPs proposed amendments to the NSSF Act 2013.

Nadome claimed that the government was also contemplating removing union representatives from the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

“We want the government to zero in on rogue MPs now working on crafting these bills to serve their own interests,” he said, adding: “As Kenyan workers, we are not going to accept being excluded from these bodies,” he said.