TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Kenya: Report Cites Rampant Rights Abuse At Work Place

Thursday, 03 March 2005

Source: The Nation (Nairobi)

A US report shows that Kenyan firms continue to violate workers' rights, contrary to the law.

The report on human rights released by the State department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, points a particularly accusing finger at firms within the Export Processing Zones (EPZs).

The Government, says the report, voices support for union freedom, but is unable to enforce the law fully, as some employees are wrongfully dismissed because they join unions.

Although the law provides that all workers be free to join unions of their choice, some anti-union discrimination still exists, specifically at EPZs in Mombasa, states the report.

With the exception of the Factories Act, the report adds, all labour laws apply, even in the EPZs.

However, the EPZ Authority and the Government grants many exemptions to applicable laws.

The report gives an example: "The Government waived a provision of the law that prevents women from working in industrial activities at night.

"There were reports that persons lost their jobs in EPZs because of their refusal to work on Saturdays.

Employees wrongfully dismissed for union activities, the report points out, are however, able to take their cases to the Industrial Court, and many are awarded damages in the form of back pay; still, reinstatement is not a common remedy.

Unlike in previous years, however, police did not use excessive force to disperse workers' strikes, the report says.

Except for the armed forces, other workers can go on strike following a 21-day notice, states the report.



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