BIDCO consists of approximately 2,500 employees who are not permanent as there is no contract of employment. The permanent employees are approximately 400. A situation arises whereby one position is held by three people and it is for the supervisor to determine who will work at a particular day. One may end up not working in a whole week thus no pay as they are paid on a daily wage.
BIDCO is represented by the Kenya Chemicals & Allied Workers Union located in Nairobi whereas the company is located in Thika. The employees would wish to be represented by the Kenya Union of Commercial Food and Allied Workers, located in Thika but the company has closed doors. It insisted that the employees be represented by the Kenya Chemicals & Allied Workers Union because it would be easier to manipulate the officials there using their resources. Also, due to the fact that it is far from Thika therefore not easily accessible by the employees.
This contravenes the constitution of Kenya 2010 which states in section 36 “ Every person has the right to freedom of association, which includes the right to form, join or participate in the activities of an association of any kind. A person shall not be compelled to join an association of any kind.”#
The Labour Relations Act emphasizes on the protection of employees in section 5. It states that “No person shall discriminate against an employee or any person seeking employment for exercising any right conferred in this Act.” It also adds that no person shall do, or threaten to:
require an employee or a person seeking employment not to be or become a member of a trade union or to give up membership of a trade union;
prevent an employee or person seeking employment from exercising any right conferred by this Act or from participating in any proceedings specified in this Act;
dismiss or in any other way prejudice an employee or a person seeking employment;
because of past, present or anticipated trade union membership;
for participating in the formation or the lawful activities of a trade union;
for exercising any right conferred by this Act or participating in any proceedings specified in this Act; or
for failing or refusing to do something that an employee may not lawfully permit or require an employee to do.
No person shall give an advantage, or promise to give an advantage, to an employee or person seeking employment in exchange for the person not exercising any right conferred by the Act or not participating in any proceedings in terms of the Act. Provided that nothing in this section shall prevent the parties to a dispute from concluding an agreement to settle that dispute. #
And that is why I have information that the employees therefore decided to exercise their constitutional right to a legal strike. This is according to section 41(d) of the constitution which states that every worker has a right to go on strike.#
They were to strike under the Kenya Chemicals & Allied Workers Union and the strike was scheduled for 15th June 2015.
The issues that led to the impending strike included:
The promised increment of salaries and other benefits were not fulfilled.
The workman compensation was not properly done:
They have three categories of medical cover; gold, silver and bronze. The bronze category is for the low income-earners. Here, when injured in the course of duty, one is taken to a general hospital but there is no adequate compensation, they are just assured of a regular duty afterwards.
The strike that was scheduled for 15th June 2015 was called off as the employer agreed to sign the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). It was signed in order to avert the strike as the CBA had been pending for about two years.
It has been one month since the strike was called off, and the workers are still waiting for the CBA to be enforced.