COTU refutes proposed changes to labour laws

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Nairobi, KENYA: As the government seeks to slap a sh 500,000 fine with an alternative of three-months imprisonment, to union officials, should the strike they call disrupt the provision of essential services, Central Organization for Trade Union COTU secretary general Francis Atwoli has refuted the amendment bill claiming its unconstitutional.

Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday, Atwoli said that the move will demand a referendum in order to change a law that is in bill of right and has been into existence since 1963.

“There is no way you can amend a law pertaining to strike. It’s in the bill of right and requires referendum,” said Atwoli.

Atwoli said that the cabinet secretary for Labour and social protections Ukuru Yattan, proposed the amendment bill out of ignorance and should be advised on the right way.

The government is proposing miscellaneous amendments to the Labour Relation Act, for workers in healthcare, water, sanitation, electricity and telecommunication services sectors to continue reporting to work during strikes.

The proposal also covers fuel distributors, meteorologists, providers of air navigational services, port workers and firefighters.

But Labour CS who proposed the legal changes, defended them on Sunday saying, Kenya must cease operating under labour laws enacted in the 1960s.

Trade unions have vowed to block legal amendments seeking to bar government officials who provide essential services from participating in strike.

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