Following the conviction on 12 October 2012 of Francis Atwoli, General Secretary, Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) in Kenya, the TUC has called upon the Kenyan authorities to review it, pointing out that the conviction was unwarranted and fraught with anomalies.
HE Mr Ephraim Waweru Ngare
Kenya High Commission
45 Portland Place
London W1B 1AS
Dear High Commissioner
On behalf of the TUC General Council, I write to express our deep concern over the conviction of Mr Francis Atwoli, General Secretary, Central Organisation of Trade Unions in Kenya.
We understand that on 12 October 2012 Mr Atwoli was found guilty of inciting tea pickers to destroy property in an unlawful strike and of defying a court order to call off the strike. While acknowledging the need for upholding the rule of law, the TUC wishes to point out that the conviction is unwarranted and fraught with anomalies.
According to the Kenyan Industrial Court Act 2011, all matters related to industrial disputes should be referred to the Industrial Court. However, on this occasion, the Kenya Tea Growers Employers Association (KTGEA) had chosen to pursue the matter through the High Court of Kenya.
In addition, in his capacity as General Secretary of COTU as well as that of the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU), Mr Atwoli did comply with provisions of the law which require unions to give a 21 days' notice prior to a strike. The KTGEA reacted only after the expiry of the 21 days by seeking a High Court injunction. In our view, the KTGEA has on this occasion failed to act in good faith and its action is tantamount to abuse of judicial process.
Mr Atwoli was fined 500,000 Ksh for contempt of court for his failure to appear in court. This, in our view, is unfair, as he was attending the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Governing Body Meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, when the first summons was issued.
Your country is signatory to ILO Convention 98 (1964) and has an obligation to adhere to internationally recognized workers' rights enshrined in it. We urge you to pass our concern on to the Kenyan authorities and use your influence with them to ensure that Mr Atwoli's conviction is reviewed without delay and that industrial disputes are settled through dialogue and negotiation in accordance with established procedures.
Briefing document (500 words) issued 19 Oct 2012
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-21548-f0.cfm
printed 22 May 2013 at 14:49 hrs by 220.127.116.11