NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 5 – The Trade Union Congress of Kenya (TUC-K) has called off its nationwide strike that was initiated to protest increased National Hospital Insurance Fund rates.
TUC-K Secretary Wilson Sossion said their decision was pegged on a court order sought by the government stopping the strike which declared the strike illegal.
“It is no longer within the law to proceed with any action with regard to the strike. We shall therefore comply with the law and advise all our members to resume work tomorrow (Monday),” said Sossion.
Although he stated that they had yet to be served with court order, they had gotten wind of its existence and would respect the law.
While thanking the workers who responded to the strike call, Sossion warned the Kenya Ports Authority against firing its workers, saying their strike action was legal.
“I saw thousands of people at the port expecting jobs when the workers were on strike. No one should be replaced because no one appealed to nullify the strike,” declared Sossion.
The workers were striking against the proposed increment to contributions to the National Hospital Insurance Fund.
“We will not rest until it is brought down significantly because the current rate is reducing our workers to beggars; we do not want by the end of this month, workers be deducted erroneous monies,” protested Sossion.
Sossion who was accompanied by other members of the TUC-K National Executive Council said they would not be silenced, and vowed to oppose the new rates until amendments are made to ensure workers’ contribution were calculated based on one’s salary.
He stated that they would honour the court appearance scheduled for Thursday and would later make an announcement over the fate of the strike which now remains suspended.
In an earlier briefing by the KNUT Executive Council, Sossion accused the government of hiding behind the courts and at the same time refusing to respect its orders citing the ruling by the Labour Relations Court on teachers’ salaries which the government plans to appeal.
“We have seen strong intentions not to implement the ruling, but we will not allow anyone to twist the ruling. Anyone wishing to appeal the ruling is condemning the teachers to poverty like they have done the retirees,” said Sossion.
He thrashed the statement by the Teachers Service Commission Chairperson Lydia Nzomo stating that there were no extra funds to pay teachers saying there was a contingency fund which could be used further accusing the government of failing to plan.
“It is not the business of (Education CS Jacob) Kaimenyi and TSC to talk about the availability of funds; they present the interest of teachers. They should come up the formula of resolving the dispute,” he demanded.
He urged the government to expedite the process of resolving the pay dispute as teachers were at the end of this month expecting the salary review.
“It is our money, it was given to us by the court and by god, no man should come in between this,” he quipped.
The teachers union also threatened to initiate a strike if the government disregards the court’s ruling on the salaries saying they were expecting to sign a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the government on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) held a press briefing where they dismissed the TUC- K strike as premature.
KUPPET Secretary General Akello Misori said talks with the government over the NHIF issue were at an advanced stage and were hoping to sign a deal Tuesday next week.
“If they sign a deal with the government and it is a good deal then we wish them well… you know there are those who have been bought and some have decided to go to bed with the government, we will continue with our fight,” Sossion responded.