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Food: COTU threatens strike

NAIROBI, December 1 – Workers umbrella body Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) has given the government a one month notice to address the high cost of food in the country or prepare for a seven day protest holiday.

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli said the current cost of flour was too high and urged the government to quickly come up with means and ways to bring down the price of the commodity.  

COTU’s top decision-making organ is scheduled to hold a meeting in the first week of January to deliberate on the best measure to hold the State accountable over the escalating price of flour in the country.

Mr Atwoli said if approved, the organisation will hand-out a ‘seven day protest holiday’ in a move that will be aimed to further push the State to act.

“Ours is a strike. We will ask Kenyans to stay at home. There will be nobody on markets, there will be nobody anywhere for about seven days,” he warned.

Public pressure has been on the rise as witnessed on Saturday during Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s home-coming party, where the public turned the celebrations around and forced speakers to address the issue of food prices.

A meeting on Monday chaired by the Prime Minister and attended by millers was adjourned after parties failed to agree on a new retail price.

Millers are said to have disagreed on proposals to significantly lower their retail prices fearing losses, and Mr Odinga is said to have walked out of the meeting to let millers consult among themselves and come up with a fair price of the crucial commodity.

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The price of flour has been on a steady increase, a two kilogram packet of maize flour is now retailing at Sh150, up from Sh48 in December last year. The government has maintained that maize flour be retailed at Sh55 per two-kilogram packet

Mr Atwoli has meanwhile threatened to name and shame individuals and leaders whom he claims are among the cartels responsible for the maize shortage.

“At a later stage we will name people who are involved in these things; we will mention who did what, who gained what and who kept what, there are a lot of ways for people to make money, but not on something that touches on human life, like our staple food,” he said. 


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