Posta workers down tools over five months pay delay

Friday, November 3rd, 2023 05:10 | By
Posta Kenya workers protest outside the Nakuru office yesterday. Thousands of Posta Kenya workers countrywide staged a go-slow over five-months unpaid salaries and unremitted statutory and third party deductions. PHOTO/ Raphael Munge

Thousands of Posta Kenya workers countrywide have staged a go-slow over five months unpaid salaries and unremitted statutory and third party deductions.

The go-slow has exposed the cash-strapped Postal Corporation of Kenya which is mandated to provide postal services in the country under the law.

Yesterday, workers of the state corporation staged protests in various towns demanding that their employer pays them failure to which they shall withdraw their services.

Speaking to the press in Nakuru, Communication Workers Union of Kenya (Cowu) officials said that their members had been subjected to serious financial challenges.“We are demanding our rights and nothing and nobody shall stop us. We have not been paid for five months. We don’t understand what the management feels about this,” said Celestine Obila, their branch secretary.

The union officials revealed that some of their members were facing humiliation because of their inability to meet their basic needs yet they report to work on a daily basis. “The landlords have kicked out some of our members from their houses. Those who don’t have their own homes, are now sleeping in the Posta Kenya’s yards,” said Obila.

The workers further complained that the corporation was deducting statutory and third party deductions from their salaries, but this never finds its way to the rightful receivers. “Many people here are depressed and cases of suicide may start coming up. It is very depressing that banks are asking for loan repayments directly from us despite the same being deducted by our employer from our salaries,” said Obila.

Bernard Mbuvi, the vice secretary, said that failure to remit NHIF and NSSF deductions by the corporation was hurting them currently and placing their future at risk.

“Today we have to pay for hospital services from our own pockets. Our NHIF covers are no longer active unless one pays for themselves,” said Mbuvi.

The union officials attributed the imminent collapse of the corporation to failure by the management to come up with strategies of claiming their rightful share of the market. They further indicated that some government agencies were frustrating them by giving business to their competitors.

“Some government offices are using private courier services yet Posta Kenya offers the same. Some of them use our services but never pay. How do they expect the state corporation to remain afloat?” posed Mbuvi.

Stanley Kiptoo, their chairperson noted that Huduma Kenya which offers services at Huduma Centres using Posta Kenya premises had not been paying rent as expected.He further indicated that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) owes Posta Kenya over Sh1 billion for courier services offered during the 2022 general elections.

“These two corporations alone owe Posta Kenya billions of shillings which are enough to cater for what we are demanding. These debts are coming up either because they are uncooperative or unwilling to pay or our management is not aggressive enough to ensure its services are paid for,” said Kiptoo.

Cowu national officials had issued a strike notice at the beginning of October 2023. The Postal Corporation of Kenya however, moved to court and obtained a temporary injunction on November 1 stopping the union and its members from engaging in a strike.

Despite the court order, the workers resorted to a go-slow instead of a strike leaving only senior managers in office.

According to an internal memo from the top management of Posta Kenya, the corporation reported the matter to the Ministry of Labour who then appointed a conciliator to arbitrate.

“The few remaining issues are being deliberated and we look forward to a mutual conclusion in the course of the week. All staff are reminded that Postal Services fall under the Essential Services category as per the Labour Relations Act,” the memo read in part.

The management, in the memo, further warned the staff that “Anyone participating in the illegal strike will be contravening the Act. Consequently, a court order has been issued and the intended strike is therefore not protected.”

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