Atwoli against new push to reassign Labour court

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli has accused the National Dialogue Committee of exceeding its mandate in some of its recommendations to President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga.

Atwoli, speaking in Kisumu during a consultative meeting between the trade union and the management of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), criticised the committee for proposing the inclusion of the Employment and Labour Relations Court as part of the High Court.

"The National Dialogue Committee was supposed to address political instability and how to correct our political ills. That was its terms of reference,” Atwoli said.

In the report, led by Kalonzo Musyoka and Kimani Ichung'wah, the committee suggested a constitutional amendment to incorporate the Labour Court into the High Court.

“The constitution should be amended to provide that the Environment and Land Court (ELC) and the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) shall be part of the High Court,” reads part of the report. According to Atwoli, the committee's mandate was limited solely to addressing political matters to ensure political stability. He said the proposal might lead to industrial instability as it could prompt workers to protest against the government over labour-related issues.

"It has been schemed by people who are against workers, who oppose industrial stability; they want strikes in this country. They want workers to stand up and rise against the government. They are not fighting us; they are fighting the Kenya Kwanza government,” Atwoli said.

He has called on MPs, especially those associated with labour movements, to lobby for the rejection of the proposal. "Workers-friendly MPs in Parliament should stand strong and expunge this clause from the Nadco report,” he said.

On NSSF deductions, Atwoli called on the government to put in place effective measures that will ensure employers live up to their obligation of remitting workers' deductions.

"We want the government to come up with some enforcement mechanism on collections," Atwoli said.