Central Organization of Trade Union (Cotu) wants Health CS Mutahi Kagwe to immediately withdraw a circular stopping medics from remitting dues to unions, failure of which they will seek legal redress.
Cotu boss Secretary-General Francis Atwoli threatened that should the CS fail to withdraw the circular, he will either take him to court or ask President Uhuru Kenyatta to sack him for violating workers’ rights.
A circular dated December 22, 2020, addressed to Public Service Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia, Kagwe, stated that the decision arose from a consultative meeting between the Health ministry and the Council of Governors (CoG) , that took place the day before.
In the circular, Kagwe states that it was decided that with effect from the date of the letter, the ministry and county governments will not play the agency role of remitting union dues to unions in the health sector.
However, on Saturday afternoon Atwoli said that Kagwe’s circular is illegal and in violation of labour laws.
“We know some government ministries have a tendency to disobey court orders. Should this case go to court, the CS will experience the full force of the union. We will ask the President to sack him,” he said.
According to Atwoli, Kenya is a signatory to international labour conventions which allow free registration of trade unions, freedom of association and entry into any collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
He explained that there is no way the Jubilee government can issue a circular to all State departments, advising them not to deduct dues from unions representing health workers including nurses, doctors and clinical officers, as well as other public service trade unions.
“The government cannot say it will not apply and implement the check-off system waccepted and made into law in 1965 , stating that every employer will deduct dues and remit them to unions within 14 days,” said Atwoli.
Atwoli further noted that the money belongs to workers and they willingly make contributions to unions.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion has been in a protracted war with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) which he accuses of withdrawing the check-off system in July, August, and December 2019 and for all the months that followed.
He accuses the commission of offloading Knut members massively, contrary to provisions of Section 48 of the Labour Relations Act.
According to Sossion, the move is meant to create wrangles in the union and stop its operations, including meetings and training, a claim that has been denied by TSC.