The notice to strike has been occasioned by a list of four issues, as listed by the Communication Workers Union (COWU) in its communication to the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services on September 29, 2014:
“Discrimination on payment of staff bonus, Harassment and intimidation of union members;Union bashing and Refusal by management to pay overtime to 54 members of staff.”
The latter three issues have been addressed, leaving the ‘discrimination on payment of staff bonus’ as the sole item on the table. According to COWU, its members have been discriminated against, since the primary bonus payment plan was not all-inclusive; the focus purely being on those that have signed performance based employment contracts with the company.
While the Union makes reference to discriminatory action by the company, it is pertinent to note that the business has always fully complied with the Labour Laws of Kenya, over and above adhering to company policy on remuneration and benefits to staff. It is also important to note that the proposal to include the unionised staff onto the performance based plan was floated in H2, 2012 by the company’s management, but was not taken up by the Union.
In addition, it is also key to note that it is not only the unionised staff that are not eligible for bonus payments; other categories of staff i.e. those on variable pay and those that earn commissions do not qualify for the payment of bonuses, making the union’s claim of discrimination against their members unfounded. Furthermore, the business has gone out of its way, as a gesture of good faith, to give at its own discretion, a token of appreciation to all unionised staff in the company. This was guided by budgetary allocation and human resource metrics.
In the same vein, the business has signed a Recognition Agreement with the Union where we demonstrate and confirm the importance of the Union as a representative body for unionisable staff. The business is also going into discussions within this month, with the Union, to discuss the 2015/2016 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
The company believes in the holistic welfare of all staff and abides by an equal opportunity policy. As has been the case previously, we remain open to further discussion with COWU – within the confines of the Laws of Kenya, the company’s Human Resource Policy, the Recognition Agreement and the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) of 2013/2014 – on a conclusive way forward to all their concerns.
The business is also alive to all possible effects a strike may have on its operations. Mitigation measures have been put in place and will be rolled out as the need arises. We have a duty to our customers – that of service provision and the maintenance of quality for the same – we therefore confirm that services to them continue as normal.