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BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,1ST MAY 2020- Central Organization on Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli has asked employers effecting pay cuts to engage labour unions before undertaking what he says are extreme measures.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Kenya, many workers have been sent home, either on unpaid leave or reduced pay, a situation which remains dire even as President Uhuru Kenyatta indicated a projected 500,000 jobs could be lost in six months if the pandemic persists.
“The problem we are experiencing is on pay cuts, some employers are not entering agreements with the union concerns, they are arbitrarily and mercilessly applying this paycuts without due regard to what will happen to the workers,” Atwoli said during a Labour Day event at State House, Nairobi.
He however commended employers who have retained their employees in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which remains a global threat.
“I want to thank the employers who have kept workers in full employment despite the pandemic and those who have entered into separate agreements with respective unions to ensure no worker loses employment,” he added.
The COTU boss further expressed his gratitude towards landlords who have allowed their tenants to either pay half rent or none, an act he said is an expression of solidarity.
At the same time, President Kenyatta assured Kenyan workers of his full support saying he will do his best to protect them against extreme effects of coronavirus on economy as well as from exploitation by people he termed as political opportunists.
“I want to assure the workers that I have their back. And I will do everything to protect them from the economic downturn and the political opportunists who feed their ambitions on the misery of workers,” Kenyatta said.