Mail stuck in the post as workers strike

December 16, 2011 2:07 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 16 – Postal services in Kenya were crippled on Friday after thousands of workers went on strike to press for better pay and working conditions.

Led by the Communication Workers Union of Kenya (COWU) Secretary General Benson Okwaro, they took to the streets to demand a 30 percent pay hike as well as increased allowances.

“For the last three years I have been struggling to negotiate salaries for my members here who have been suffering silently while at work and nobody is thinking about them. We have decided therefore to call our members out on strike and no amount of intimidation is going to stop it,” he stated.

The union also accused the corporation’s management of failing to maintain industrial relations with the workers. Some workers told Capital News that they have been in the same pay grade for many years despite the steep rise in the cost of living.

“You have worked for thirty years and you have a paycheck of Sh18,500 so you take a loan to take your children to school. Once it is deducted, you remain with a net income of Sh5,000. Can this help you to sustain your family?” one of the striking workers posed.

They vowed not to resume duty until their grievances were addressed.

“You know it is good to come out and say this is what we have in the basket but if they neglect us, we will look as orphans,” they stated.

In Kisumu, 400 workers did not report to work with the region union branch chairman Johnson Okotto urging the government to address their grievances.

“We are fighting for our rights. For the last four years, we have not got any new wages. They must come out and tell us if they don’t have money,” he said.

The workers Union last week issued a strike threat starting Tuesday, December 13, over better terms of employment.

The union said the Postal Corporation of Kenya has since threatened to take disciplinary action against employees who will participate in a strike called by their union.

COWU Secretary General, Benson Okwaro said the Labour Minister John Munyes had agreed to arbitrate between them and their employer; after the union gave the strike notice.

This is the third time in a year that the Postal Corporation workers are calling a strike.

In March and August when the union called the workers to strike following unfruitful negotiations with the corporation over a comprehensive bargaining agreement.

The workers were demanding a 50 percent raise and a review of their house and commuter allowances with the promotion of long serving employees also being an issue.


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