Let me take this opportunity to thank CENTRAL ORGANISATION OF TRADE UNIONS and its leadership for hosting this discussion in order to allow us to explain to workers and Kenyans in general our proposals on labour related issues and concerns.
In our manifesto as the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, CORD, we recognize job creation as a critical component of our lives. Reason – jobs contribute to national economic growth as well as personal financial security, identity and a sense of community.
We believe all Kenyans are entitled to fairness at work and we have in this regard undertaken to ensure that workers are supported in all aspects. A CORD government will Stand Up For Workers through the following ways:
A). DECENT JOBS and SUSTAINABLE EMPLOYMENT
We pledge to implement sustainable development by emphasizing not just creation of jobs for its sake but Decent Jobs. We will achieve this through expansion of opportunities at the national and enterprise levels. CORD will accelerate growth through agriculture, manufacturing, the wholesale and retail trades, tourism, energy – notably electricity, construction, transport, storage and communication, finance, real estate, business services and general government services which in turn will lead to wealth creation and more jobs.
The CORD Government shall establish and uphold principles of tripartism, provide a basis for strengthened collaboration between workers and their representatives, Governments and employers in the implementation of sustainable development by formulating a clear Employment Policy.
The employment policy will guide all activities related to employment and welfare of workers with clear objective of poverty alleviation and full and sustainable employment, which contribute to safe, clean and healthy environments – the working environment, the community and the physical environment. Workers should be full participants in the implementation and evaluation of government activities related to employment.
The Employment policy shall among other things-
(a) Promote ratification of relevant conventions of ILO and the enactment of legislation in support of those conventions, more particularly with regard to freedom of association.
For workers and their trade unions to play a full and informed role in support of sustainable development, CORD Government shall ensure that all social partners i.e. Government and employers promote the rights of individual workers to freedom of association and the protection of the right to organize as laid down in ILO conventions. CORD Government shall protect and encourage social dialogue in all matters related to industrial Relations.
(b) Strengthen participation and consultation – we shall ensure that, business and industry are provided with the appropriate environment to promote the active participation of workers and their trade unions in decisions on the design, implementation and evaluation of national and international policies and programmes on Industrial Relations development, including employment policies, industrial strategies, labour adjustment programmes and technology transfers.
(c) Establish bipartite and tripartite mechanisms on safety, health and sustainable development;
(d) Provide an enabling environmental for respecting and implementing collective agreements aimed at achieving sustainable development;
(e) Promote industrial safety by minimizing occupational accidents, injuries and diseases according to recognized statistical reporting procedures;
(f) Create special Workers Education Fund in order to increase the provision of workers’ education, training and retraining, particularly in the area of occupational health and safety and environment.
B) Social Security System
The CORD Government shall ensure the achievement of universal and affordable access to social security, reduction of income insecurity, reduction of the unequal access to opportunities, and removal of discrimination. The Government shall address challenges that impede provision for social security such as high poverty levels, spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and the resultant burden on existing social security arrangements, global migration patterns resulting in a high non-national labour force, refugee crisis, changing family structures and values etc. In other words, we shall have a strong safety net of minimum conditions.
C) Universal Healthcare
CORD recognizes that a healthy workforce is a prerequisite for sustainable economic production. CORD deplores the significant inequalities in access to health care, meaning Kenya has a high disease burden, especially from preventable diseases. Institutional weaknesses, lack of adequate personnel and supplies, dilapidated facilities, mismanagement and corruption are some of the major health-care challenges the CORD government intends to confront head-on.
The CORD Government shall ensure the achievement of universal and affordable access to social security. It is our intention to cushion workers and their dependants from the consequences of income threatening risks such as sickness, poor health, injury at work and retirement.
We shall seek to eliminate unequal access to opportunities, and discrimination of any form.
We shall pursue a system of universal care and fund the same via direct investment by the government; we shall sustain the health sector by eliminating waste and corruption and properly motivating health workers.
We shall seek to actualize a social health insurance framework that makes room for the unemployed (without creating free loaders. Mexico did this by requiring stringent proof of poverty and we can follow their example.)
We shall make continuous robust investments in the building of new health facilities, renovation of old ones and subscription to new medical technology especially with regard to cancer and heart disease.
We shall also train and employ more medical doctors and nurses.
These steps will increase the quantity and quality of healthcare across the country as well as solving the challenges of manpower and equipment.
NHIF is a critical player in the well being of every worker in this country and their families. The fund must make enormous strides in access and reach to meet expectations of all Kenyans, workers included. We shall ensure the fund is all-inclusive by allowing every Kenyan including farmers, the unemployed or self employed, who is willing to contribute to be part of the Fund. We shall also ensure that loopholes that have contributed to loss of public funds from the institution are completely sealed.
In this regard, Tuko Tayari to review the NHIF Act to make the institution leaner, efficient, and indeed customer driven.