Businesses & Financial News

Union fights threaten safety of workers’ pensions

By Remie Otieno

A fresh row is looming large at the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) as two unions tussle to be recognised as the legitimate representative of County employees.

This comes after the Kenya County Government Workers Union (KCGWU) – Monday wrote to the company’s management protesting the existence of National Union of Water and Sewerage Employees (Nuwase) which the former claimed was keen to replace it as the workers’ representatives.

In a letter dated July 4, also copied to the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU-K) and Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC), KCGWU now wants the company to henceforth deal with it directly on matters affecting the welfare of their employees –noting that Nuwase was constituted illegitimately.

“It is unconstitutional, malicious and mischievous to give members this outfit to defeat the already negotiated terms of workers and 36 months’ salary arrears to the workers and also the directive by COTU to all affiliate unions within the water sector,” wrote Matilda Kimetto – a branch Secretary of KCGWU in a letter also addressed to the Chairperson and managing director of the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company – a company that represents all employees of the fighting unions.

Officials from Nuwase have however, maintained that the workers had left KCGWU and joined the new union feeling demotivated over a CBA negotiated on their behalf and poor payment of pensions. The union was formed in 2006.

For a union to sign an agreement with an employer, legally, it has to have a simple majority. As of 2018, KCGWU had 98 per cent of all the employees while Nuwase had about 57 percent of the county membership.

“As of May 2022, we are aware that their membership stood at 684 membership which is below the threshold required by law to warrant recognition,” added Ms. Kimetto, adding that the confusion had also caused the delay in the payments of over Sh2.6 Billion owed to the county workers through their pension scheme, Laptrust.

Laptrust DB Scheme closed its doors to new members in 2011 and in a new Defined Contribution Scheme, Laptrust (Umbrella) Retirement Fund, was registered to meet the retirement needs of new employees within the then Local Authorities of Kenya.

As a result, the change saw slow remittance of contributions by the defunct local authorities in addition to the initial delay by the county governments to handle inherited liabilities from the local authorities.

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