COTU issues ultimatum to Munyes

October 21, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, October 21- The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Executive Board has said it would not nominate a replacement to the National Social Security Fund Board of Trustees.

The Assistant Secretary General George Odiko told a news conference on Tuesday that they instead wanted Labour Minister John Munyes to reinstate the board which he dissolved last week.

“We are not going to nominate anybody and the board’s operations will be paralysed.  The minister (who has been on a collision path with the board over recent managerial changes at the security fund) is not off the hook yet,” he warned.

According to the law which governs the NSSF, no business can be transacted unless COTU’s nominee and the one from the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) sit on the board. The law also states that there must be a Board of Trustees at all times.

While dismissing the current board, Mr Munyes cited preliminary investigations which pointed to the misappropriation of funds and said the trustees had to step aside to pave way for a thorough audit of the pension scheme’s operations.

The Labour Ministry runs on a tripartite arrangement with FKE and COTU on workers’ issues and the workers umbrella body has now warned that industrial relation matters cannot be addressed properly if relations between the three parties are strained.

The tough-talking COTU board also accused the minister of failing to follow legal procedure in disbanding the board, whose absence had created a management vacuum at the workers fund.

Before its dissolution, the board suspended seven investment managers for ‘misleading and withholding information from them’ by failing to secure certificates for Sh1.4billion worth of shares purchased through the troubled Discount Securities.

“We want to remind the minister that he cannot do things at will particularly when it’s in connection with the NSSF board.  The board is legal and everything that must be done must be legally acceptable. The minister is acting outside his mandate,” Mr Odiko said.

They also threatened to take further action if Mr Munyes does not rescind his decision.

The FKE – which has two officials sitting on the board – had called a press conference on Tuesday afternoon over developments at the NSSF, but it was cancelled at the eleventh hour.  Reasons for the cancellation were not clear.

In August, Mr Munyes was on a collision course with the dissolved board after he sent the former Managing Trustee Rachael Lumbasyo on forced leave pending her retirement.  His attempt to replace her with Fred Rabango was rejected by the trustees.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga was forced to intervene and directed the board to enlist a professional firm to start the recruitment process for a new Managing Trustee.



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