Atwoli asks Ruto to ensure safe working environment, pushes for bipartisan talks

President William Ruto and COTU boss l Francis Atwoli at the Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, May 1, 2023. [Picture/ State House]

Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU), Secretary-General Francis Atwoli, has urged President William Ruto to take swift action to ensure a safe working environment for workers.

Speaking during the Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi on May 1, Atwoli called for dialogue between the government and the opposition. He expressed concern that workers' businesses are often affected by disruptions during protests.

"Workers go through many challenges to ensure their businesses are running well, and it is important to guarantee their security, especially when it comes to how they get to work and their businesses," said Atwoli.

He urged workers not to participate in the upcoming mass protests planned by the Azimio la Umoja One-Kenya coalition, stating that protests will not change the status quo and could result in job losses.

Atwoli emphasized that workers want to access their places of work peacefully and urged for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing political crisis.

He also called on former President Uhuru Kenyatta to refrain from collaborating with the Azimio team and instead become an ambassador of peace.

He acknowledged Raila Odinga's contributions to the country and called for President Ruto to support him in any work he wishes to undertake.

However, he emphasised that peace is crucial for the well-being of the nation as a whole.

"We need to engage with leaders to alleviate tensions between the police and citizens, allowing workers to access their places of work in a peaceful manner," he said.

In response, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua stated that the Azimio team had walked out on bipartisan talks offered by President Ruto and instead decided to go back to the streets.

"Despite being given an opportunity to return to normalcy, the Azimio people have chosen to continue protesting on the streets. It's important for them to understand that the President has pledged to defend the Constitution, which includes safeguarding the lives and property of all citizens," said Gachagua.

Gachagua urged the Azimio team to consider proceeding with bipartisan talks in Parliament.

"The last time Azimio took to the streets, there was no peaceful demonstration, but rather acts of looting, violence resulting in loss of life, and injuries," said the Deputy President.

"We strongly urge them to consider engaging in bipartisan talks in Parliament. In the event they choose not to take that route, it's important for them to understand that the President has a constitutional duty to protect both life and property."