Matuga Const: Dock Union forces KPA to pay bonus

The Docks Workers Union (DWU) has finally succeeded in putting pressure on the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to pay outstanding workers bonus worth over Shs 150 million.

The DWU threatened to call for an industrial action if the port management declined to release the money to its employees. Following the stand off, the KPA board of directors met on January 19 and passed a resolution to have the workers paid.

And on Friday last week, a circular was issued confirming that the port workers would be paid their dues starting this week. The DWU officials led by the GS Simon Sang held a meeting with workers the same day at the container terminal to announce the breakthrough.

The meeting was also attended by Transport minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere who wanted to gain political mileage by posing as the one who pushed for the bonus, although it was claimed he was the stumbling block on the grounds that if the bonus was released, the Dock Union national chairman Jumah Mwasene his political rival would benefit politically.

Mwasene has declared interest to challenge Mwakwere for the Matuga constituency ticket in the coming general Elections. The chairman has been at the forefront in criticizing the manner in which Mwakwere was interfering with the smooth running of the port by his frequent unnecessary telephone directives.

Sang called on the government to shelve the port concessioning plans, saying such a move would result to retrenchment of workers. He said all the berths leased out should be repossessed. He said the Dock Union would soon move to court to reclaim the berths if the government failed act.

"President Mwai Kibaki said that only government institutions that were not performing were to be privatized. I don't understand why KPA should be in that list since hardworking employees were making billions annually for the parastatal. There must be a hidden agenda by those calling for port privatization," said Sang amid applause from workers.

He said the neighbouring Dar es Salaam port was undergoing problems after it was haphazardly privatized. He called on Kenyans to resist the privatization of KPA, saying only a few privileged Kenyans wanted to buy it for selfish gains.

He lamented that a local tycoon was recently given berths number 7 and 8 in what he described as back door privatization. He said the tycoon was controversially assisted by a certain government minister to be allocated the berths.

Mwakwere denied claims that he had forced KPA management to employ over 400 workers from his Matuga constituency during the recent casual recruitment exercise at the port, saying he only sent 51 from his Golini home village.

KPA has controversially hired over 1,000 casual workers in the last two weeks. Majority of the positions were given to MPs who subscribe to Narc-Kenya to fill with their supporters as a campaign strategy ahead of the general elections.

However, a certain minister's kins have been given permanent employment and promotions at KPA in secretive circumstances. The KPA managing director is Abdalla Hemed Mwaruwa who was in Malaysia for the whole of last week.

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