Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli has called out the Daily Nation over a story stating that trade unions in the country have become impotent.
The paper on Monday, September 18, published the story titled “Death of trade unions” on its front page insinuating that trade unions are a shadow over their former selves.
The author explained how trade unions in the past took the lead in agitating for the rights of workers.
Further, the article explained how the unions helped to mold leaders giving the examples Tom Mboya and Poo Gama Pinto.
However, Atwoli retaliated, describing the story as a result of irresponsible practice.
In a statement shared on Monday, Atwoli expressed his disappointment with the local newspaper, adding that it was misleading.
“COTU (K) shall continue representing the interest of Kenyan Workers and not of a few senior editors in newsrooms,” Atwoli stated.
Further, the COTU boss urged the Media Council of Kenya to crack the whip on unethical practices within the journalism field.
According to him, COTU is still a strong trade union with a membership of over four million workers and the second largest in Africa.
Atwoli went on to affirm that COTU is committed to advancing the interests of workers and at the same time engaging constructively with the government.
“We recognize that our role as a responsible trade union is to engage constructively with the government, employers, and other key players to advance the rights and interests of workers,” he added.
The article came against the backdrop of the new proposed tax measures.
Months after the government enacted the Finance Act 2023 with revised tax measures, Kenyans are staring at more deductions in the proposed amendments.
Among the proposals is the increment of Value Added Tax (VAT) on products to 18%.
According to the National Treasury, Kenya’s VAT is lower compared to other countries in the East African Community (EAC) region.
As such, the government has proposed a move to review VAT taxes and consequently achieve harmonization of taxes as envisaged in the EAC common market protocol.
If effected, the taxes are further expected to compound the already existing concerns from the increase in fuel prices.
Atwoli Joining Ruto
In the run-up to the elections in 2022, Atwoli was part of the Azimio brigade that was rooting for Odinga to succeed the retired President Uhuru Kenyatta.
However, the veteran trade unionist dumped Odinga, after Ruto took over, stating that the former Deputy President was too smart for Azimio.
In May 2023, Atwoli supported Ruto’s housing levy, telling off critics. “It’s rather unfortunate that even after COTU (K) Secretary General invited all union leaders and the President of Kenya to have a social dialogue on various issues including the 3% housing fund levy, those who skipped the Labour Day Celebrations are now complaining about the resolution of the meeting,” COTU stated.