By Like Anami
A row has erupted in the trade union movement on how to pick a nominee to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
The Central Organisation of Trade Union ( Cotu) and the newly registered Public Servants Trade Union (Pusetu), consisting of civil service workers has sparked off a debate as to which, between them, should seat on the SRC.
Already Cotu is a nominee of the SRC by virtue of its tripartite partnership and as per the requirements of the new Constitution. Pusetu brings together Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), University Academic Staff Union (Uasu), University Non-Teaching Staff Union (Untesu) and the Union of Kenya Civil Servants.
A suggestion by SRC chairperson Sarah Serem to allow Pusetu to sit on some of its committees, has raised strong opposition from Cotu, the largest umbrella body of workers. The oldest union in the country is opposed to any discussions that seek to admit Pusetu into any of SRC committees.
“Article 230 of the Constitution talks of a person nominated by the umbrella body representing trade unions. The union with the most representation of workers from all sectors is Cotu.
Pusetu is not paid up member of the umbrella body and cannot purport to be the most representative because theirs is an amalgamation of trade unions from one sector, the civil service,” Francis Atwoli, Cotu secretary general claimed in an interview with The Standard On Saturday.
Atwoli took issue with the chairperson of SRC for suggesting that Pusetu be considered to sit on committees of SRC terming the suggestion as unconstitutional.
“The mandate, role and membership composition of SRC is embedded in the Constitution. Where is it written that another union can be nominated? It is illegal and unconstitutional unless the constitution is amended to reflect this changes,” said Atwoli. Under Article 252 (b), SRC has been given the constitutional mandate for conciliation, mediation and negotiation between the Government as an employer and unions in Public Service. But there are arguments that the Federation of Public Service Trade Unions is not a body that can sit in SRC to become a judge in its own case.
But both SRC and Pusetu have defended themselves against this claim. “I am not fighting other people’s battles,” explained Serem who on Monday met representatives of Posetu.
“SRC was established to determine pay for civil servants yet there is nobody on the SRC who represents civil servants. Pusetu was formed to represent civil servants and a nominee must represent civil servants,” insisted Charles Mukhwaya, Secretary General Untesu, a founder member of Pusetu.
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