Postal workers down tools over five-month unpaid salaries

Postal Corporation of Kenya workers protesting outside their offices in Nakuru on November 2, 2023, over delayed salaries. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Postal Corporation of Kenya workers across the country downed their tools on Thursday and took to the streets in protests to demand their five-month delayed salaries.

This followed the expiry of their 21-day strike notice when they demanded that the government pay them.

The workers went on strike despite a court order issued on Wednesday barring them from the industrial action. 

In Nairobi, the workers converged at City Square postal premises where they expressed their displeasure with the government's failure to pay their salary arrears they claimed could sum up to Sh600 million. 

Led by Communication Workers Union Secretary General Benson Okwaro, the workers also demand payment for the services rendered to the electoral commission during last year’s elections and other statutory deductions. 

“It is not going to be business as usual because postal workers have suffered for far too long,”  said Okwaro, maintaining that they are not going to relent, vowing to court to challenge the order that stopped their industrial action. 

“Workers are being paid net salary instead of gross. Sacco contributions and bank loans are being deducted but are not being remitted,” Okwaro said. 

He said some workers have been locked out of their houses due to rent arrears and others have resorted to part-time menial jobs to sustain themselves in these tough economic times. 

Okwaro, who is also the Deputy SG of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) accused the government of abandoning the cooperation which is battling problems he termed as inherent. 

“It is not a question of five months as this problem started in 2020. There was a period we didn’t receive salaries for six months and it has been continuous. Workers in all our branches countrywide have down their tools,” said Okwaro

Attempts by the corporation’s management and Board of Directors to quell the tension, promising to address the challenges, proved futile as the workers swore to continue with their demonstrations until they were paid. 

A Return to Work Formula signed between the union and the management on Thursday morning revealed that the corporation plans to resolve the issues by the end of this month. 

The conciliation agreement indicated that the salary arrears will be paid once IEBC pays its dues to Posta, a promise the management anticipates will be realised by November 30. 

According to the agreement, they will come up with a formula on how to clear the statutory deductions within 21 days which started on Thursday. 

The agreement also barred the Post Master from victimising its workers for engaging in a strike. 

While addressing the workers, the Corporation’s Human Resource Manager Nancy Mathenge promised to address their plight as soon as possible. 

“We have had three meetings over this matter, including one with the Ministry of Labour. We have signed an agreement and a consensus reached. We will do as agreed to turn around this organisation,” she said. 

 

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