Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2017, 11:55 GMT

2015 ITUC Global Rights Index - Kenya

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 10 June 2015
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2015 ITUC Global Rights Index - Kenya, 10 June 2015, available at: [accessed 13 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

2015 ITUC Global Rights Index Rating: 4


In April 2014, Cabinet Secretary for Labour, Social Security and Services, Samuel Kambi Kazungu, publicly intimidated unions by stating that he would "reduce COTU to nothing". Moreover, government officials declared that they would storm the National Labour Day Celebrations scheduled to be held at Uhuru Park in Nairobi if the union did not call off the May Day celebrations.

Union officials sacked by flower farm:

Seven union officials were sacked in July 2014 by the Karuturi Flower Farm in Naivasha, accused of inciting their colleagues. They had been involved in a long-running dispute over wages, including a strike in February 2014 to demand the payment of four months' unpaid wages. The flower farm, the world's leading producer of roses, had gone into receivership, and had changed its name to Twiga Roses. Ferdinand Juma of the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) said the latest incident stemmed from a meeting in which the union officers had asked the new management to increase wages. Employees went on a go-slow to protest against the sacking.

Union members face pay discrimination at Telkom Kenya:

The Communication Workers Union (COWU) Secretary General Bensom Okwaro reported in September that there was discrimination in the payment of staff performance bonuses at Telkom Kenya. He said that non-union staff had each been paid between 50 per cent and 75 per cent of their salaries, amounting to between Sh30,000 to Sh1,000,000, while union members have only been given STITLE,000. COWU warned that more than 1000 Telkom workers would down tools on 8 October if the bonuses were not paid fairly. The union also accused the management of harassment and intimidation. The strike went ahead after Telkom countered that the claim was unfounded, and that the differences were related to the type of contract workers had, not their union membership. The strike was called off on 16 October after the union and Telkom signed a back-to-work agreement in the presence of Labour Ministry officials. Pay was deducted from the workers' salary slips for the seven days of their strike however, which the union said was against the terms of the agreement. The union filed a case in court against the company for deducting pay for the duration of the strike.

Teachers' leader faces police summons over strike:

The Secretary General of the Kenya National Union of Teachers, Wilson Sossion, was issued a summons in January 2015 by the Criminal Investigation Department after allegedly advising teachers in Northeastern Kenya not to return to work after a strike due to security concerns. The teachers expressed their support for Wilson Sossion and the Law Society of Kenya said on 2 February that the summons was illegal and that it amounted to intimidation against the union leader. The KNUT and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) had called a nationwide strike on 5 January 2015 after the Teachers' Service Commission (TSC) failed to meet its demands on pay and conditions. The January 2015 strike was called off after two weeks when the Industrial Court intervened and asked all parties involved in the dispute – the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), the Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (KUPPET), the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) – to submit proposals on the 300 per cent pay increase that teachers were seeking. As part of the agreement the TSC undertook not to victimise any teacher, union official or the unions who may have participated in the strike. Several teachers were arrested during the strike, but under the terms of the agreement not further action was to be taken against them.

Attempts to harass and undermine the unions:

COTU reported that the state had investigated its accounts in late 2014 and early 2015 on allegations of corruption in the unions. COTU believes these allegations are mere propaganda by the Labour Ministry owing to its differences with the General Secretary of COTU. At the time of writing the matter was still before the courts. In September 2014 the Governor of Kakamega Country, the Hon. Wycliffee Ambetsa Oparanya reportedly warned county workers against joining trade unions and described trade unionists as individuals "fighting for their own survival".

The ITUC Global Rights Index Ratings:

1 // Irregular violation of rights
Collective labour rights are generally guaranteed. Workers can freely associate and defend their rights collectively with the government and/or companies and can improve their working conditions through collective bargaining. Violations against workers are not absent but do not occur on a regular basis.

2 // Repeated violation of rights
Countries with a rating of 2 have slightly weaker collective labour rights than those with the rating 1. Certain rights have come under repeated attacks by governments and/or companies and have undermined the struggle for better working conditions.

3 // Regular violation of rights
Governments and/or companies are regularly interfering in collective labour rights or are failing to fully guarantee important aspects of these rights. There are deficiencies in laws and/or certain practices which make frequent violations possible.

4 // Systematic violation of rights
Workers in countries with the rating 4 have reported systematic violations. The government and/or companies are engaged in serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers putting fundamental rights under threat.

5 // No guarantee of rights
Countries with the rating of 5 are the worst countries in the world to work in. While the legislation may spell out certain rights workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices.

5+ // No guarantee of rights due to the breakdown of the rule of law
Workers in countries with the rating 5+ have equally limited rights as countries with the rating 5. However, in countries with the rating 5+ this is linked to dysfunctional institutions as a result of internal conflict and/or military occupation. In such cases, the country is assigned the rating of 5+ by default.

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