Trade unions back Raila Odinga State House bid

Francis Atwoli, Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga (left) receiving workers' memorandum from COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli at Serena Hotel in Nairobi on April 12,2022. E

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Trade unions have endorsed Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga, saying he was the best bet to take the country’s leadership and fight for the interest of workers.

Led by Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli, the more than 20 Secretary Generals of the unions said they resolved to support Mr Odinga after an analysis of his agenda for the country.

“We have about four million members, second after Nigeria trade unions with five million members. We speak for all workers and we shall be involved in campaigns for Raila,” Mr Atwoli said at the event held at Nairobi’s Serena Hotel on Tuesday.

Kenya Electrical Trade and Allied Workers Union (KETAWU) Secretary-General Ernest Nadome said the country would go to the dogs should Mr Odinga’s opponents rise to office.

“We resolved at the board meeting to support Raila Odinga as the 5th president. We cannot continue taking a neutral position because we don’t want workers to suffer after the coming election that the government has gone to the dogs because our opponents won,” said Mr Nadome.

Mr Atwoli who handed Mr Odinga a memorandum on the union’s demands if he forms government said among the issues of concern is Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) which he noted was not good for the workers as it “now purports to manage unions.”

“Help us deal with this issue of SRC when you take office. It came as an advisory commission but now purporting to manage unions,” Mr Atwoli said.

“It is an illegal, amorphous group if it’s not operating on an advisory role.”

Social tripartism

He also called for strengthening of social tripartism among workers, employers and government.

The Cotu boss also lamented that there is a need to nominate more representatives of workers as stipulated in the constitution.

 “In the constitution we are supposed to be nominated.”

He also challenged Mr Odinga to look into the matter concerning representation in the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) board which he noted some government officials had blocked representatives of workers.

Mr Odinga promised to create constant dialogue and engagement with workers.

“I envisage a caring country where there is no exploitation. In Azimio we talk about growing the cake by making it bigger so everybody has something to eat,” the ODM leader said.

He said the issue of representation in the board of NSSF should be automatic because workers have a right to have a representative to safeguard their money.

“Workers must safeguard their money against people who don’t have their interests at heart,” Mr Odinga said.

Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi and his Kisumu counterpart Anyang’ Nyong’o lauded the trade unionists over what they termed as making the best decision for the workers by supporting Mr Odinga.

Simply rhetoric

“We must not just drive politics but also ensure we drive policy as politics without policy is empty and simply rhetoric,” Mr Muriithi noted.

We want to build an economy of job creation and I welcome your involvement in our campaigns, he told the unionists.

Prof Nyong'o said Mr Odinga recognises the role labour movement has played in the development of the country and achievement of independence.

“Workers are the productive class of a nation and must offer support in economic liberation of which you are the centerpiece,” he said.