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December 17, 2018

Unions should pay their striking workers

A file of Nyeri workers during a strike over lack of pay.
A file of Nyeri workers during a strike over lack of pay.

Elgeyo Marakwet county is in dispute with nurses who took part in the 151-day strike last year. The nurses are complaining that they have not yet been paid their dues for when they were on strike.

Kenya has more strikes than most countries. Teachers and medical staff are most frequently on strike. Workers may have genuine grievances but there is also no downside to going on strike if you get your salary at the end of the strike. It is almost an incentive to go on strike.

In principle, when a worker withholds labour, the employer withholds pay.

Therefore, in most countries, workers pay monthly membership dues to their union so that they can get 'strike pay' if they cannot avoid the extreme step of stopping work. 

Kenya needs to drop this peculiar practice of employers paying outstanding salary to workers when a strike ends. That way the number of strikes will reduce.

Workers will still be entitled to strike to protect their interests but they should realise the cost of doing so.

Quote of the day: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

WB Yeats

The Irish poet was born on June 13, 1865

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