COTU threatens strike over fuel prices

December 6, 2011
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 6 – The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) is threatening to lead Kenyan workers on a nationwide strike from December 19 if the government does not reduce the price of fuel by 30 percent.

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli said the action is precipitated by the predicament in which the country’s workers find themselves with the high cost of living and the current inflation of 19.72 percent

He said that COTU together with the Matatu Welfare Association had written to the President over the issue and there has been no response.

Atwoli said: “The rising cost of living is responsible for the rising cases of workers striking coupled with the ineptness of some government officials and arrogant ministers refusing to negotiate.”

“COTU is not out to incite workers but we will lead them to a strike beginning the 19th, no public service vehicle will be on the roads and no worker will leave his house,” declared Atwoli.

The unionist who spoke at COTU offices said that they were ready for negotiations with the government over the lowering of the price of fuel insisting that there is absolutely no valid reasoning behind the high prices.

He further called for the disbandment of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) accusing it of working in cohorts with oil marketers to exploit consumers.

“We are ready for dialogue because the price of fuel should not exceed Sh63 factoring in reasonable profits for the marketers. There is no economic justification for the current price of Sh124 for super and Sh114.30 for diesel,” he stated.

“ERC is a cartel; it is together with the people who are geared towards exploiting Kenyans; People in the rural areas cannot even afford a kilo of meat they wait for weddings and burial ceremonies to eat meat, the government must do something!” Atwoli further stated.

Matatu Welfare Association Chairman Dickson Mbugua said that operators would paralyse transport services, a move that will complicate traveling during the festive season.

He also pledged that bus fares would not be raised during the festive season.

“We will not keep increasing fares because it is the same commuter who is burdened; we cannot sustain the increase in fares because the commuters are not getting their salaries increased,” he said.

November was the 11th month in a row that the pump prices have been edging up, since the introduction of the price control formula geared at protecting consumers from oil marketers as well as capping their profit margins.

Following the price hikes in mid November super petrol in Nairobi is selling at Sh124.13, diesel retails at Sh114.30 while kerosene retails at Sh94.87, prices that are one again up for revision in mid December.

Currently the government faces a dilemma in alleviating further industrial action by negotiating salaries of University staff and the country’s doctors.

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