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Port workers sacked over NHIF strike

03 July 2015, 16:29 Jose Mwanake

Mombasa - The Kenya Ports Authority has sacked several employees for participating in the ongoing workers strike over the National Hospital Insurance Funds NHIF deduction.

Yesterday, the Dock Workers Union officials confirmed that 28 of their members have received dismissal letters from the KPA management.

The 5,000 workers, under the DWU, said the NHIF new rates are too high and vowed to continue with strike, even after some resumed their duties fearing to be dismissed.

The rates were increased in a graduated structure effective April 1, with the lowest at KES 170 and the highest KES 1,700 per month.

For the self-employed category, the rates were increased from KES 160 to KES 500 a month.

In one of the dismissal letter seen by News24, KPA said it had issued two circulars, dated June 30 and July 1, advising staff not to participate in the illegal industrial action.

“However, it is noted that 1st and 2nd July 2015, you together with other employees of the Authority actively participated in illegal strike which resulted in stoppage of work,” reads part of the letter.

The letters signed by Salim Chingabwi, KPA General Manager, Human Resource and Administration,  said the actions of the employees to go on strike amounted to economic sabotage as the facility serves the East and Central Africa.

“In the view of the seriousness of the offence, you are hereby summarily dismissed from the service of the authority with immediate effect,” the letter reads.

All dismissed staff are required to surrender all KPA property in their possessing and those residing in KPA houses to vacate within 48 hours.

However, the DWU secretary general Simon Sang dismissed the port management decision as a “silly move aimed at intimidating the workers.”

“You cannot sack workers who are agitating for their rights, that was a silly move and as far as we are concerned no one has been sacked from KPA,” said Sang.

DWU threatened to organize for a mass action against the government and KPA management if the stand-off is not resolved by Monday.

“Next week, the dock workers union and other affiliate members of the larger Trade Congress Union will down our tools over the issue of NHIF and the continued intimidation by government,” said Sang.

He said TUC has 560,000 members across the entire countries, which include the DWU, public university staffs and lecturers, the teachers and many other public servants.

“We shall move to the streets and the entire country will come to a stand-still if they do not want to resolve the problem with earnest,” he said.

The KPA managing director, Gichiri Ndua, said they have lost over Sh100 million in the last two days and insisted the strike is illegal.

He has since advertised for vacancy at the port for interested Kenyans.

“Those interested in positions of Terminal contractor, Forklift operators, Top loader operators, Winch operators, Port clerks and Coxswain to report at KPA Bandari College tomorrow at 8:00 am for oral and practical interviews,” said Ndua, through a paid-up advert in the dailies yesterday.

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- MyNews24

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