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Union threatens strike over Kenya Power sack plan

Ketawu Secretary General Ernest Nadome speaks at a past event. [Rushdie Oudia, Standard]

The Kenya Electrical Trades and Allied Workers’ Union (Ketawu) has threatened to go on strike unless Kenya Power abandons plans to send a fifth of its employees home through voluntary early retirement (VER)

Kenya Power last month proposed to undertake the VER exercise through which it would mutually separate with nearly 2,000 employees as it seeks to tame its payroll costs.

The company, however, said the proposal was yet to go through different approvals, starting with discussions at the board level.

Ketawu yesterday demanded that the power utility firm withdraws the proposal, protesting how the company has been planning the process, including failure to adhere to labour laws and the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in place between the union and the firm.

It said it would try and avert the process which had been “billed voluntary but with catastrophic proposed terms of exit”.

“The management is hereby advised to withdraw its proposals dated January 24, 2022, to pre-empt massive withdrawal of labour or otherwise until the constitutional rights of workers are respected and actualised,” said Ketawu Secretary General Ernest Nadome.

“The connotation of the VES (Voluntary Early Separation) is outrightly unlawful. It is not in any legislation or enabling statutes.” Kenya Power said it plans to send home 20 per cent or 1,962 of its workers through the VER exercise at a cost of Sh5.3 billion.

It said the exercise would save the company Sh1.54 billion in payroll costs per year. Kenya Power had a staff headcount of 9,843 employees as of January 2022, according to the firm.