, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 21-COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli has renewed calls for police officers to have a trade union to advocate for their welfare.
Atwoli said he will not tire from pushing for the establishment of the union saying police officers suffer in silence due to lack of a platform to voice the difficulties they face in their work.
“It is time for our police officers to have a union where they can air their grievances because they have been neglected for too long,” said Atwoli, vowing to take up the matter with higher authorities at Police Headquarters and at the Interior Ministry.
The National Police Service as currently constituted does not have a union for officers and therefore, they cannot go on strike.
Police Spokesman Charles Owino in a quick rejoinder said “it is immoral for police officers to go on strike for any reason and therefore, can not have a union.”
“What we can have is a welfare union but not a trade union because the job of a police officer is like priesthood. It requires high morals and therefore officers cannot go on strike. Imagine if police officers went on strike for even five minutes and someone is killed during that time due to insecurity. Who will recover that person’s life,” he posed, “This work is not a profession like teaching where lessons lost can be recovered later so let us consider all this before we think of forming unions for the police.”
The debate of members of the police force joining unions stemmed from a High Court ruling in June 2013 when Industrial Court Judge Onesmus Makau made a landmark decision that allowed police officers to form and join trade unions.
He ruled in favor of four retired police officers Stephen Kyalo, Stephen Karani, Paul Gichuru and Nicky Njuguna.
The ruling however, directed police officers not to call or participate in strikes which is prohibited under section 47 (3) of the National Police Service Act (2011).
Under the new Constitution in the Bill of Rights, every Kenyan has the right to fair labor practices and every worker has the right to fair remuneration, reasonable working conditions, to form, join or participate in the activities and programmes of a trade union, and to go on strike.