You are making workers jobless, Atwoli tells Azimio over demos

Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli

Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli during a shop stewards meeting at Solidarity Building in Nairobi on April 29, 2023.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) secretary-general Francis Atwoli has condemned the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition for its anti-government protests, saying the demonstrations have left a trail of destruction and leaving some workers jobless.

Speaking at his office in Nairobi on Thursday, Mr Atwoli said at least 5,000 members of the organisation were unemployed as a result of Wednesday's protests because they could not access their workplaces.

Mr Atwoli pointed out that thugs had taken advantage of the protests to destroy property and loot shops, adding that Azimio now had no control over the demonstrations.

"Even the Azimio brigade is not in control of the protests because it has been hijacked from them and is now in the hands of thugs and those who don't respect the rule of law," said Mr Atwoli.

He said the destruction on the Mlolongo expressway "paints a very bad picture that we in Kenya are primitive, disgusting, backward and cannot use facilities in the way they were developed".

"I want to appeal to the political class, including the leader of Azimio, brother Raila Amollo Odinga, to reconsider these protests in the context of the fact that our infrastructure is very expensive."

"Raila has always taken credit for being part of the people who planned and designed our highways and you can't now allow it to be destroyed by some elements who don't understand why it was put in place," the Cotu boss said.

He said the chaotic protests had put Kenya in a bad position globally.

"We are now in a bad position with global economic planners and we look like people who don't respect the rule of law, who don't respect other people's property and people who are not willing to be supported by those who want to do so."

Mr Atwoli urged the opposition to rethink its strategy, adding that protests would not bring down the cost of living.

"To reduce the cost of living, we should support activities that enable investors to invest, businesses to thrive and attract more direct and indirect investment into this country."

"We must also be ready to work with employers and even the government and those who want to put in place mechanisms to stimulate economic growth."

Mr Atwoli also urged the government to ensure that there is a round table conference to seriously discuss what is happening in the country.

"The government needs to get directly involved and find a solution because to me the protests have already been hijacked and are no longer in the hands of Raila and his Azimio brigade," said Mr Atwoli.

He said as workers, they were worried because they could not report to work but some workers depend on daily jobs and are paid on a daily basis.

He accused the Azimio coalition of clinging on to the cost of living issue but only wanting to settle scores with the government after losing the elections.

"We went through elections, we went to the Supreme Court, a president was sworn in and a government is already in place."

"In fact, it's always better to have a bad government than no government at all. We cannot allow our country to go the way of Sudan.

He said Azimio had to accept that it had lost the elections.

"I was in Azimio and we have to accept that we lost the elections. For the posterity of a country, we have to build a culture of respecting whatever kind of government is in place rather than not having one," he said.

He said there was no reason for the opposition to push for talks after losing the election.

"Dialogue for what purpose? How do you negotiate with someone who has already defeated you? Just reorganise for the next fight."

"Talks all the time, what do you want from these talks? a position or what? There is no time when things were easy, even in the old days".