Though trade movements are key economic institutions, and can impact significantly in the fight against poverty, the government appears determined, through twin mechanisms of co-option and coercion, to take over the control of labour unions.
Control of union leaderships by State agencies has reduced the autonomy, strength and purpose of trade movements.
This has impacted on trade unionism negatively. All unions within the public service are now a pale shadow of themselves due to the government’s persistence on micromanaging union leaders.
Employers, with the full backing of State agencies, have sought to curtail the powers of trade unions as they (unions) are perceived to be an impediment to the country’s economic growth.
This is absurd; a retrogressive act that cannot be tolerated in this day and age.
The Jubilee government has been hostile to the labour movement. There is no doubt that Jubilee is anti-labour movement and is dead-set to suffocate workers.
Today, all trade unions, both in public and private sectors, are subdued to the level that they cannot effectively engage in any constructive collective bargaining with the employers, an act that was never witnessed in the leaderships of presidents Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki.
As such, the next government will be expected to respect union leaderships and labour laws since they act as tools to promote labour relations for protection workers.
The new leadership will have zero choices but to respect and honour recognition agreements and CBAs.
The resolutions of United Nations World Summit for Social Development, which Kenya was a party to, observed that unions should be given latitude to partner with governments in developing policies on how State agencies should tackle and eradicate poverty, unemployment and social exclusion.
Moreover, it was resolved that unions should play a leading role in the achievement of Sustained Development Goals. Thus, unions have a distinctive role in the country’s economic growth.
Unions, through their respective recognition agreements, have outlined how they should partner with the employers and State agencies to stabilise the government for rapid economic development since workers have a determinative impact on economic growth.
Thus, the role of trade unions to spur economic development and the fight against poverty is unquestionable.
In all fairness, the employers and State agencies should comply with recognition agreements.
Moreover, they should appreciate that labour and economic crises can fully be addressed with the involvement of trade unions.
Mr Sossion is a member of parliamentary Committees on Education and Labour