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PUSETU: COTU's attacks are uncalled for

11 April 2014, 16:00 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The Kenya Public Servants Trade Union (PUSETU-K), the second newly launched workers’ organization in the country has called on its counterpart, Central Organizations of Trade Unions (COTU) to work together harmoniously in addressing challenges affecting workers.

PUSETU vice Secretary, Mudzo Nzili said COTU’s witnessed attacks on the launched public servants’ union is uncalled for and that the government might take the advantage of their divisions to continue mistreating workers. He added that the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution provided for the freedom of any employee in private or public sector to join any formed trade union.

“The objective of PUSETU’s formation is to fight for public servants’ rights against government’s harassment and any form of mistreatment in addition to unfair representation, and not to fight our loveable brother Francis Atwoli’s COTU. We therefore call on him to put aside those uncalled for differences to work collaboratively in addressing issues affecting workers,” said Nzili.

He lashed out claims that PUSETU is a government project only formed as a result of the controversial Tassia II infrastructure for individual gains noting that the union was formed in 2010 by Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) officials after realizing that public servants lacked a representative to address their challenges.

“PUSETU is not formed during the Jubilee Government as alleged by some people, but was instead formed in 2010 by among them, the late Knut Secretary General, David Oguta Osiani, God rest his soul in eternal peace. At that time, COTU was silent on the challenges encountered by public servants such as government’s reneged agreements with teachers, which are labor matters,” noted Nzili.

“We know and feel the challenges public servants encounter unlike Atwoli who is not a member of the public sector. His failure to fight for public workers has made us to be suffering orphans for a very long time hence the need to have our own representative in the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) among other programmes,” he added.

Nzili reiterated that PUSETU has over 700 000 registered members from affiliate unions such as the Knut, the University Academic Staff Union (Uasu), dock workers among other organizations contrary to COTU’s alleged approximation that it does not have more than 300 000 members.

The PUSETU vice secretary challenged COTU to schedule for a joint meetings for the two unions to make arrangements for the forthcoming Labour Day celebrations on May 1.

“Labor Day is not a day to meet and share mandazi but a day to address issues affecting the workers. We therefore want to meet our big brother Atwoli who is much experienced in trade union issues to agree on the arrangement of Labor Day,” stated Nzili.

Nzili, who is also the Knut Chairman, noted that the Jubilee government deserves 35% scorecard in education sector in its one year administration due to failure to fulfill many of its promises including the controversial postponed laptop project, failure to ensure that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is recognized as a constitutional Commission with appointed commissioners, failure to resolve a backlog of court cases for interdicted misbehaved teachers, failure to employ ECD and determining their salaries as per Vision 2030 provisions in addition to recruiting 40 000 teachers to reduce the current shortage of about 100 000.    

Regarding the rating in the Labor sector, Nzili said the government deserves 25% scorecard noting that workers still face numerous challenges especially by granting more authority to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) instead of playing an advisory role to the government.

Nzili was speaking on a local radio station in response to the looming disagreements between COTU and PUSETU.

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