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Trade unions to critique party manifestoes, Sossion says

Sossion addressing the press on his re-election as TUC-K General Secretary/JEREMIAH WAKAYA

NAIROBI, Kenya, February 23 – The General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress of Kenya (TUC-K) has said the union will critique party manifestos of all political parties to ensure the interests of its members are safeguarded.

Wilson Sossion said the union will send questionnaires to all political parties ahead of the General Elections to enable it critique political parties’ manifestos.

“We’re approaching all political parties as a labour centre in collaboration with other labour movements in this country. The TUC-K has developed a very comprehensive concept paper and questionnaire to all political parties on various issues because it has reached a time that we must scrutinise the manifestos of political parties because they affect us,” Sossion said shortly after his re-election to the National Executive Board of the union on Thursday.

He said the trade union will not allow the political class to short-change workers, adding it was high time for the country’s politics to be based on issues.

TUC-K, Sossion said, was going to put to rest the deceitful culture of politicians during the electioneering period, saying for far too long political actors have taken workers for granted.

“We’ll not allow political parties to whip the emotions of our members and use them to win elective seat at different levels,” he said adding that “the use and dump culture of the political system is over.”

“We’ll give you questions, you answer them. We’re prepared to meet and engage all the political parties on these issues because we have a right to both political and social issues.”

Sossion also warned public sector employers against using the industrial relations charter to punish its members as the union had not signed any charter on industrial relations.

He said any punitive measures against its members on the basis of the existing charter would amount to violation of fundamental labour rights protected under the law.

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“We have not signed an industrial relations charter with the government so any existing charter does not apply to us,” he said adding: “Any unfair labour practice that borders on servitude by using an industrial labour relations charter that we are not signatory, to will be met by defiance.”

Sossion called for a speedy resolution of the strike by lecturers, saying TUC-K affiliates are fully behind university staff unions in their quest to have a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the 2013-2017 cycle negotiated, signed, registered and implemented.

“It is only the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) that has complied on implementation of CBAs, the other have not,” Sossion remarked.

Sossion said university staff just like their counterparts under the TSC are entitled to a CBA, urging the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to stop interfering with the process.

“Forty days out on strike without even an iota of desire to resolve it? TUC-K from this minute strongly rallies its unreserved support for university staff unions to have their CBA,” he added.

He wondered why the commission tasked with the review of salaries of State officers was unable to stop notorious salary adjustments by Members of Parliament who have time and again awarded themselves hefty salary increments in the past.

The SCR – one among commissions established under Chapter 15 of the Constitution – has  since the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010 been under fierce criticism from workers unions which have blamed the commission for acting as an impediment to their calls for better  remunerations, allegations it has denied.

So far, negotiations to end the lecturers’ strike which commenced on January 18 have stalled after the Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) and Kenya Universities Staff Union (KUSU) rejected a Sh10 billion offer by the government through the Inter Public Universities Consultative Council Forum (IPUCCF) which UASU said was inadequate.

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