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Kenya energy strike threatens

A Kenyan geothermal
power plant
Nairobi, Kenya — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 01 November 2011 – If the management of Kenya Power “’ a Nairobi Stock Exchange-listed company that  transmits, distributes and retails electricity throughout the country “’ fails to meet its employees’ demands, Kenya may find itself plunged into darkness.

Kenya Electrical Trades and Allied Workers’ Union (Ketawu) national general secretary Ernest Nadome said the union was ready to execute, what it dubbed, ‘Operation Darkness’ and turn off the country’s electrical power supply.

He added that the union was awaiting communication from the Kenya Power management for talks to resolve the impasse, and if this failed it would make good its threats.

“The Government is aware of this and it is unfortunate that the Ministry of Labour has been held captive and the Minister of Energy has refused to come out strongly to resolve this matter, leaving us with no option,” he said.

However, the government has declared the strike illegal.

The issues that the union workers want resolved are the terms and conditions of service for permanent employees and employment of casual workers.

“We are just fine-tuning what will be the mother of all strikes,” Nadome said, adding that the 7-day notice they had issued to the company earlier had expired.

Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli threw his weight behind Ketawu, saying communication from Kenya Power seeking a resolution would go through his office.

“Ketawu is facing a myriad of issues, and they are ready to go on strike which is their number one weapon,” Atwoli said, adding that he would sit it out with them.

The Ketawu official insinuated that the union had opted to disregard the court order Kenya Power had obtained from the Industrial Court in a bid to stop the planned countrywide strike. “The case in court will be heard on 7 November and we shall be there, but our strike starts now,” Nadome said.