Cotu will not endorse any party in 2017, Atwoli says

The umbrella trade union on Wednesday termed a move by one of its members to endorse the ruling Jubilee coalition in the 2017 General Election as personal.

The Central Organization of Trade Unions (Cotu) said that the body does not support any party in the 2017 polls and therefore the move by trade unionist Simon Sang was not a representative of its stand.

Mr Sang, the Dock Workers Union General Secretary General, has said that he will support the Jubilee government’s re-election and promised to ask Cotu to support the party too.

He said that the union will move away from the tradition of workers’ unions being anti-government.

Mr Sang’ had made the same promise when Deputy President William Ruto held a rally at Tononoka Grounds in Mombasa.

In a statement, Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli said that Mr Sang had no right to declare support for the Jubilee government.

“The statement by Mr Sang is personal and at no time should it be construed to mean the direction Cotu will be taking politically since equally he has no mandate whatsoever to speak on behalf of Cotu and the Kenyan workers as a whole,” Mr Atwoli said in a statement to newsrooms.

He went on, “Cotu is a free and independent union that respects and cherishes a diverse membership in terms of political ideologies and it would be unfortunate for anyone to try and dictate to this membership which political party to support come the next General Elections.”

According to Mr Atwoli, a decree by the union leadership in 2001 that delinked the organisation from any political leaning, still stands.

Similarly, he said, the dock workers had not held a meeting that endorsed Mr Sang’s message.

“He cannot push such members into taking a certain political decision without going through the pre-requisite provisions of the Unions Constitution,” said Mr Atwoli.

The unionist, however, said that Cotu will work with the ruling government “with no commitment.”

“As a free and Independent trade union organization, Cotu will continue to work with the government of the day and not involve self into unending political squabbles and parties likely to divide our members,” he said.

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