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Supermarket workers’ bid to form own union opposed

Kenya Union of Commercial Food and Allied Workers general-secretary Boniface Kavuvi. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Kenya Union of Commercial Food and Allied Workers general-secretary Boniface Kavuvi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya Union of Commercial Food and Allied Workers (KUCFAW) has opposed a bid by troubled supermarket sector workers to form a splinter union saying it would destabilise an ongoing case for 4,000 laid off workers.

General-secretary Boniface Kavuvi said his union has already filed opposition to the registration of Kenya Union of Supermarket Workers.

The union has filed a civil suit seeking orders to compel Nakumatt to release all unpaid dues and to void dismissal letters issued to some workers.

“There are people using all mechanisms to block our case from being heard for lack of authority and they are the ones sponsoring the yet to be registered union. We have signed Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) with all the big retail chains on behalf of workers over the years,” he said.

In a gazette notice last Friday, Registrar of Trade Unions Esther Gicheha invited comments on the proposed registration saying any objection to the new entity should be done in writing within 21 days.

“Notice is given pursuant to section 14, 15 and 17 of the Labour Relations Act to all trade unions, federation of trade unions, employers’ organisations or federations, of the receipt of application for the registration of the Kenya Union of Supermarket Workers,” it said.
Mr Kavuvi said retail chain workers were ably represented adding there was no vacuum since KUCFAW was engaging all authorities, supermarket owners and senior government officials in litigation.

“The new union’s proponent is a former branch secretary who was ousted during branch union elections and he is just looking for a job. We represent workers employed by Uchumi, Naivas, Nakumatt and Tuskys as well as Chandarana and we wonder who the new union plans to represent,” he claimed.

KUCFAW said if allowed, the move would also disrupt ongoing engagements with retail chain management to better workers’ terms and conditions.