Kenya Power employees are planning a countrywide strike over disagreements with the employer regarding the terms of service for live line employees, Kahawa Tungu can authoritatively report.
According to a letter in our possession from the Kenya Electrical Trades and Allied Workers’ Union (KETAWU) secretary-general Ernest Nakenya Nadome, Kenya Power has reneged on several agreements signed in 2017. This includes an agreement on the employment and remuneration of live line staffers.
“There has been continued management violation of the CBA (Combined Bargaining Agreement) in force and failure to honour direct commitment hence affecting the morale of your employees and general productivity,” says Nadome.
According to an insider who spoke to Kahawa Tungu on condition of anonymity, Kenya Power has not honoured its pledges to permanently employ engineers working on the live line maintenance programme, as agreed.
Kenya Power launched the live line maintenance programme in 2019 at a cost of Ksh2 billion from the World Bank. The programme sought to reduce planned electricity shutdowns, enhance the stability of power supply and improve revenue generation.
“There are KPLC staffers who have been trained to do maintenance of power lines on “Live conditions “. KPLC contracted a certain company “IDUBE” from South Africa. KPLC did an internal advert for the interested employees. They gave out conditions for one to qualify to be trained and those who qualify were to be confirmed to permanent if they were serving on contract basis and those who were serving permanent were to be given one job group after training,” says our source.
The training was to be done in two phases before the programme was fully operationalised. Our source reveals that the first phase was implemented well, but challenges arose in the second phase.
“Now when it comes to the second phase the company refused to translate their terms as per the agreement. The company bought many tools worth more than 200 million (including) more than 50 live line cars each was costing approximately Ksh40 million while training of each employee cost almost Ksh3 million,” adds our source, saying that all Kenya Power staffers could down tools in solidarity with their live line colleagues.
The letter by Nadome dated January 19, 2021 has also raised other issues including nonpayment of special accommodation (21 days) on transfer, nonpayment of overtime worked between June and December 2020, and also non-issuance of critical PPEs In 2019, 2020, and 2021.
“There have been non-implementation of agreed terms and condition of service for live line employees,” says Nadome.
The Union has also faulted Kenya Power for non-operationalization of joint oversight committees to oversee the allocation of jobs to employees first and excess to L&T contractors. The current scenario Is that the Contractors are given preference. L&T is a major technology, engineering, construction, manufacturing and financial services conglomerate, with global operations.
“The purpose of this letter is to demand immediate payment of the 21 days allowances, unpaid overtime, issuance of critical kits and implementation of the remaining live line employees. If this is not done, we will have no option but to escalate the issues as a dispute in accordance with section 62 (1) of the Labour Relations Act, 2007.
Section 62 (1) of the Labour Relations Act, 2007 provides that employee unions can report disputes to the concerned ministry for action to be taken against a certain company.