Twenty eight Kenya Ports authority workers who were sacked over five years ago over a strike now wants President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition Chief Raila Odinga to intervene and address their grievances.
The former workers led by Abubakar Mohamed said they were unfairly targeted by former management led by Gichiri Ndua at the alleged prompting of cartels who wanted to take over second container terminal illegally.
“We are law abiding citizens whose only crime was to defend and protect workers rights, workers who elected us democratically. It is important to know that most of us diligently, loyally and competently served Kenya Ports Authority for decades without any pending or effective disciplinary action prior to our dismissal,” they said while addressing a press conference in Mombasa.
“The management took an advantage of the strike to target innocent workers. We strongly believe the abrupt sacking was due to undue pressure persistently piled on the management by powerful and influential businessman with huge interests at Mombasa port.”
They point out that they were sacked without being given a chance to defend themselves, a move they say violated their constitutional rights and subjected them to cruel, undignified, unfair and inhuman treatment by the KPA which has further allegedly refused to pay their terminal benefits.
Labour and Employment Court sitting in Mombasa ruled that the port management did not follow proper procedure in summarily dismissing the union officials and ordered that they be paid all their terminal benefits before they were removed from staff houses.
But five years down the line, the port management continues to show contempt by disobeying the court order and has even gone ahead and evicted the employees before paying them.
The 28 union officials were summarily dismissed following a one day strike called by Tuc- Kenya on July 2 2015. The strike was caused by a dispute over increased NHIF rates from Sh320 to Sh1,700 per month, an act which workers felt was arbitrary and unilateral.
To date, they say they have continued to languish in hopelessness and poverty. Their children have dropped out of school and colleges for lack of school fees and some of them are suffering poor health and without means to seek healthcare. One of them has since passed on, they pointed out.
They further say, every effort to reinstate them has been met with strong opposition from an influential Mombasa businessman who has continued to use his wealth to fight them by blocking every possible amicable way of effecting their reinstatement.
They now want the President Uhuru and Raila to to intervene by ordering their reinstatement or compensation as ordered by the court so they can be able to educate their children who have dropped out of school and pay back bank loans whose repayment stalled after their source of income was abruptly cut off.