, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 16 – The Federation of Kenyan Employers (FKE) has expressed opposition to the strike called by the Central Organization of Trade Unions [COTU] and the Matatu Welfare Association scheduled next Monday.
According to a statement from the FKE Executive Director, industrial action is not the solution to the economic woes in Kenya.
Jacqueline Mugo said in the statement that workers must know that the actual effects of inflation are as a result of system inefficiencies and high taxes.
FKE wants the government to reprioritise its expenditures and lower the costs of energy by addressing the inefficiencies in this sector and reduce the taxes on fuel and electricity.
The statement read in part: “There is a desperate need to create a better Kenya for all. The increase in the cost of labour will by no means result in increased production of goods and services but increase in the amount of money in the economy thereby fuelling inflation.”
The Federation has appealed to COTU boss Francis Atwoli to take “a more reasonable position” in the case of matatu and truck drivers strike, saying that the strike scheduled for Monday will have a negative impact to the country’s economy, in addition to hurting Kenyans who are planning for a rested holiday season.
Mugo cautioned that the recent call by the COTU boss Francis Atwoli’s stating he would mobilise youths to burn down employer factories was illegal and went against the principle of justified strike action.
She has challenged leaders to be of mindful in their speeches and direct the nation in a manner that is in order and with the accountability that each office requires.
The COTU boss on Thursday reiterated after a meeting at Solidarity House that a planned nationwide workers strike will go ahead on Monday, with the support of public transport operators.
Atwoli said they were dissatisfied with Wednesday’s reduction of fuel prices by an average of Sh5. He insisted that fuel prices should immediately come down by 30 percent.
Atwoli said the union’s umbrella body had sought dialogue with the government over the matter albeit unsuccessfully.
“We already issued a notice to the Minister for Labour, after having written to the President. So if there is no intervention by Friday, let nobody seek an explanation as to why workers fail to report to work on Monday,” declared Atwoli.
“Even if any worker came out there will be no transport services. Besides, we will have young men to make anybody intending to go to work to retreat,” he threatened.
Already, the rival Matatu Owners Association through its Chairman Simon Kimutai has indicated that his association will not participate in the strike.
FKE has however conceded that inflation has risen persistently over the last one year from a low of 3.18 in October 2010 to a high of 19.72 in 2011 and that this high cost of living has eroded Kenyans purchasing power.
“The country is currently characterised with high interest rates, high fuel and electricity prices. These high prices have a direct effect on the cost of production and therefore the cost of goods and services,” the FKE statement read in part.