NAIROBI, Kenya, May 1 — The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli has defended himself against accusations that he is siding with Members of Parliament (MPs) in their push for higher pay.
During Wednesday’s Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park, Nairobi, the trade unionist said he was against MPs salaries being reduced and was not pushing for the MPs to be paid more.
“I am simply concerned about the precedent it sets. I do not want it to be given as an example when the ordinary citizen has his pay reduced,” Atwoli explained.
Atwoli made the statement as a section of the civil society sought to disrupt his Labour Day speech on account of his perceived support of MPs in their bid to have their salaries restored to that of the 10th Parliament.
Among the protesters was activist Boniface Mwangi who was taken into police custody for attempting to disrupt the festivities.
“Two of us were arrested, Richie and I. Richie was taken away and beaten before been (sp) delivered at Parliament police station,” Mwangi said on his Twitter profile page.
Atwoli is not one to steer clear of controversy and he added his two pence on the disputed nomination of Charity Ngilu and Najib Balala as Cabinet Secretaries.
“As workers we are praying that Parliament accepts these particular nominees because in their previous postings as ministers they dealt with corruption decisively,” Atwoli added to his Labour Day speech.
Atwoli did not hold back on the strike threat from teachers eitherasking the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) to give President Kenyatta time to get his house in order given he was sworn-in less than a month ago.
During his Labour Day speech, President Kenyatta said a alternative dispute resolution mechanism will be put in place to handle workers’ grievances before they are forced to resort to industrial action.