Employers slam COTU over tea workers strike

October 23, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 23 – The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) on Saturday criticised the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) for inciting tea workers to continue with their strike despite a court order barring the boycott.

FKE Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo told a news conference on Saturday that it was wrong for COTU to be at the forefront inciting the workers to defy the court order. She said COTU should instead tell the workers that the strike is illegal as the court had ruled.

“The union has defied a High Court order restraining the union from calling workers out to strike and the COTU Secretary General was quoted urging workers to continue with the strike,” she said.

Ms Mugo added: “We are calling upon the Union to stop misleading its members because the leave to cite for contempt. The Union should not drag us back to the days of type writers when everyone is on the computer age.”

Tea workers across the country went on strike after tea firms introduced tea plucking machines, a gesture the tea workers said would lead to loss of their jobs.

The court however last week issued an order restraining the union from calling workers to strike. COTU has remained defiant and urged the workers to go on with the go-slow.

According to her, the court said there is no law in Kenya that prohibits employers from using machines or advancing in technology and hence the workers were misplaced to use that as the reason of the strike.

“Employers should not be limited from coming up with ways of becoming more productive by cutting production costs,” she said.

Ms Mugo urged the workers to return to work and pursue dialogue. At the same time she notified FKE members in the tea sector that any continuation of the strike by their employees was unlawful.

Ms Mugo accused workers’ unions in the country of adapting the trend of going on strike without giving notices to employers.

She said the unions also were getting used to going on strike without looking at other reasonable avenues of resolving issues in contention.

Ms Mugo urged unions to use other means before issuing strike threats and look for peaceful ways that will not lead to losses and hold development across the country.

She noted that the country was wasting a lot of time and other resources in workers strikes. Ms Mugo appealed to the Ministry of Labour to hold talks with employers and employees to iron out the differences between them.


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