Operations at the Kenya Ports Authority were on Thursday temporarily halted after workers downed tools protesting an alleged failure by the port management to implement a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) signed between the management and the dock workers union in 2013.
Journalists were barred from accessing the port, but workers who requested anonymity told Baraka FM that the KPA chairman Danson Mungatana had addressed the striking workers and assured them that matter would be resolved with urgency.
“Our union representatives and the management are currently in a meeting, and we hope they resolve, otherwise, we won’t go back to work,” one worker told Baraka FM.
Union officials said the unrest had been caused by failure of management of effect transport allowances as agreed in the 2012 CBA.
“We had issues with transport allowance which was part of the collective bargaining agreement we entered into with the port management last year, and was supposed to have been implemented by yesterday (Wednesday) but that did not happen. That is why the workers are irritated,” Simon Sang, Dock Workers union Secretary General, told journalists in Mombasa.
Bernard Osero, KPA’s corporate affairs manager said they had managed to convince the workers to return to work, after promising them that negotiations between the union and management over the matter would be finalised on Friday.
The port handles cargo for the entire east African region and any disruption to its activities is bound affect regional business.
In November 2012 over a half of the about 6000 workers employed by the port went on strike demanding that 3,500 workers, most of who were loaders, and had worked at the port for between 15 and 20 years on casual and contractual basis, be given permanent jobs.
This demand was met by the port, and was among other demands in the CBA including the review of allowances.