Teachers, civil servants, university lecturers and dock workers will not take part in the Labour Day celebrations, their umbrella union has said. The Trade Unions Congress of Kenya has asked them to stay away from the annual event as a means of “protesting government’s failure to address our concerns”.
“We see nothing to celebrate,” Mr Wilson Sossion, the congress secretary general, said in a statement issued in Nairobi on Thursday. In the last four years, he added, Kenyan workers, especially those in the public sector, had witnessed loss of earnings he blamed on many factors.
“These include mismanagement of public resources, corruption, depreciation of the shilling, unpredictable economic growth, leading to increases in consumer prices and a ballooning wage bill. These and other cases have been cited as reasons for failure by the government to consider a pay increase,” he said.
Mr Sossion added that public sector employees were some of the most hardworking, resilient and ingenious Kenyans.
“They wake up early to beat traffic jams, spend long hours in the office and bear the brunt of shrinking economic fortunes. At the end of the month, they get almost empty payslips.”
But the employees carry that indignity and constantly lived in denial. “When you meet one, you see a decent healthy man or woman in office attire. Behind this mask is a worker who will skip a meal that day, will not carry a loaf of bread home, has not paid for water or electricity for the last month or more and cannot access social medical services because NHIF dues are in default,” he added.
Mr Sossion said the government had failed to address the plight of its workers and bad policies had contributed to many strikes in recent years.
“Teachers and health workers are demotivated. The government employs excessive power and undue pressure to kill the unions,” he said. He said that a research recently commissioned by the Trade Unions Congress of Kenya showed that more than 40 per cent of all government allocations were either stolen, wasted or went to non-core business within the government.