Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cotu praises ruling allowing police to form unions

Cotu Deputy Secretary General George Muchai addressing the press on June 16, 2013. Photo/DENISH OCHIENG

Cotu Deputy Secretary General George Muchai addressing the press on June 16, 2013. Photo/DENISH OCHIENG  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By PETER OBUYA potieno@ke.nationmedia.com

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) on Sunday welcomed a court ruling that allowed police officers to form unions but denied them the right to go on strike. Read (Court clears way for police to form trade union)

The Industrial Court in Mombasa on Friday ruled that police officers can form a trade union and declared that the Labour Relations Act, which barred police officers from forming or joining a trade union, was null and void.

However, the officers will not be allowed to take industrial action as a way of expressing their grievances after Justice Onesmus Makau who gave the ruling also directed that police officers not be allowed to call or participate in any strike pursuant to section 47 (3) of the National Police Service Act of 2011.

Cotu, which was also enjoined in the suit as an interested party welcomed the decision to limit the rights the police can enjoy as members of a trade union given the sensitive nature of police work.

“We do not want them to go on strike because that will threaten the security of the country,” said Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli told the Nation.

While addressing the press at Cotu headquarters in Nairobi, Mr Atwoli’s deputy George Muchai said the organisation will initiate dialogue with the office of the Attorney General to formulate amendments that will limit the enjoyment of the fundamental rights by police officers in respect of strikes and industrial actions.

“It is our considered opinion that police officers enjoyment of these rights be limited to ensure they do not take industrial action,” Mr Muchai said.

Mr Muchai said Cotu is grateful to the ruling arguing that it would have been unfair to let the National Police Service Commission remain the employer and agitator of the rights of police.

“The commission is the de-facto employer of all police officers and it would amount to an unfair labour practice to let them also act as the agitator of police rights,” he said.

The ruling will now allow police officers for the first time in the country’s history to have a vehicle through which they can fight for their rights.

Mr Muchai also urged the officers to be calm and weight for the process to conclude as the government makes appropriate amendments to effect the ruling.

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