COTU urges rethink of privatisation

April 19, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 19 – Kenya’s workers’ umbrella body the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) is calling on the government to be more prudent in its privatization initiatives.

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli wants the government to be more involved in enterprise as a way of cushioning the ordinary Kenyan from hard economic times.

“If a country is worth being called a country then the government must get involved in business,” Mr Atwoli said on Sunday.

Mr Atwoli proposed the formation of government stores that would allow the masses to access subsidised food compared to those run by private entrepreneurs. He said such stores have worked well in countries like China, Egypt and Sudan.

“This is imperative because government must be in a position to feed its people,” said Mr Atwoli.
The trade unionist noted that the government privatisation process seemed to be favouring only a particular group of people but making life almost impossible for the rest.

“The developed countries advised us to liberalise our economies and warned that the government needed not be involved in business, but look at them now; their governments have to put in excessive funds to try and salvage their faltering economies,” Mr Atwoli said.

He noted among the economic challenges burdening workers in the country is the ever rising price of basic commodities that has made the cost of living too high.

“The international barrel price for crude oil is not as high as the price of the end product we receive here, and once a core product like this is expensive everything else becomes almost impossible to access for the masses,” Mr Atwoli pointed out.   

The COTU boss said he had arranged meetings with key government officials including Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his Deputy in charge of Finance Uhuru Kenyatta to address the issues.

Mr Atwoli was speaking during a meeting to brief COTU officials on the program for this year’s Labour Day celebrations to be held on May 1.


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