Dockers union faces stormy waters in leadership tussle

Dock Workers Union secretary-general Simon Sang addresses a meeting  at the KPA Mbaraki Grounds  in Mombasa recently. photo | kevin odit | nmg
Dock Workers Union secretary-general Simon Sang addresses a meeting at the KPA Mbaraki Grounds in Mombasa recently. photo | kevin odit | nmg 

Leadership wrangles have rocked the giant Dock Workers Union, with a section of members accusing secretary-general Simon Sang of mismanaging the union and demanding that he resigns.

Led by Joseph Nyaguti, a shop steward, the more than 20 workers accused Mr Sang of failing to hold annual general meetings for the past four years, suspending board members illegally and buying a Toyota Lexus worth Sh4 million without following due process.

The suspended officials are Mr Mohamed Sheria (chairman), Mr Gunda Kaneno (vice- chairman) and the treasurer, Mr Joseph Makero.

Addressing journalists at Palm Tree Hotel in Mombasa yesterday, they also claimed that the union’s books of accounts had not been audited for over five years.

“We have evidence that money for subscription to the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) was banked in a private account after Mr Sang moved the union to Trade Union Congress of Kenya (TUK),” said Mr Nyaguti.

He also accused the official of obtaining loans from commercial banks without a clear plan on how the money would be invested or repaid, adding that some members had threatened to withdraw from the union citing lack of foresight among leaders. “He is servicing personal loans and bills using members’ subscription instead of his salary and has placed standing orders to the bank to pay services that do not exist,” he claimed.

“We are not going to sit back and watch him, together with nominated officials manipulate and intimidate members with the intention of embezzling union funds. Sang must pack and go,” Mr Nyaguti added.

Another member, Mr Mohamed Chilembi said their union boss had divided members along tribal lines, calling for meetings of members of certain communities.

“We are not going to allow him to use our union for his personal gain. We are asking our members to come out strongly and remove Mr Sang because he is no longer working for the benefit of the members,” Mr Chilembi said.

But in a quick rejoinder, Mr Sang said he was “one of the best managers” of a union in the country, and accused the workers of petty politics.

“To start with, we followed all procedures in suspending the officials after evidence was presented that they had engaged in gross misconduct,” Mr Sang said in a telephone interview.

He said while the last AGM was held in 2014, some members had gone to court to block the meeting in 2015 and last year.

Concerning books of accounts auditing, the unionist said those of the year 2015 were ready and would be presented in a meeting to be held next week.

He laughed off the accusation that he had misused union funds when he bought the car, saying he was “worth more than that”. “If that is what they are saying then tell them I am worth more than Sh4 million,” he said.