The Industrial Relations Charter in Kenya

As earlier indicated, the period between 1958 and 1961 saw a lot of agitation, upheavals and strikes in the labour movement in Kenya, although there was confusion between agitation for political independence and labour matters.

The above confusion led the colonial government to formulate a document in 1962 to insulate industrial agitation from political agitation. This document was the Industrial Relation Charter. It became the ‘mother’ of industrial relations in Kenya. The charter was revised in 1980.

The charter defines the social contract between the three parties involved in Industrial Relations – the Government of Kenya, the employees and the employers. The charter made provisions for the RECOGNITION AGREEMENT, which forms the basis of the collective bargaining system. The three parties started TRIPARTITE.

General Clauses of the Charter

  • To affirm the faith of the three parties to democratic principles on labour matters i.e. differences should be solved through mutual negotiations, conditions and arbitrations.
  • In case of strikes or lockouts parties agreed to be bound by: – mutual agreements and the law i.e. the Trade Dispute Act
  • The three parties agreed to abide by and co-operate in implementing the Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA’s)
  • They undertook to observe the grievance procedure contained in the Recognition Agreement
  • The government to educate labor officers, Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) to educate employers, and COTU to educate employees on the importance of good Industrial Relations
  • The three parties agreed to form the National Consultative Council to advice the Minister for labour on all general Industrial Relations Matters.
  • The NCC was to form a demarcation committee to determine areas of jurisdiction in the event of conflict by Trade Unions
  • Each party was to respect one another’s Freedom of Association.
  • Pa rities agreed to act expediently in replying to correspondence from another party.
  • The charter established a Tripartite Consultative Council to advice the minister on matters affecting the economy in general and employment in particular
  • The charter excluded the following groups of workers from participation in Union matters: –
  • Staff who formulate, control or administer any aspect of organisation policy
  • Staff who perform work that is of confidential nature.

Parties Involved

These are; the government (Ministry of Labour), COTU (for all employees in unions) and FKE (for employers)

  1. The Government

Responsibilities include: –

  • Ensure speedy settlement of disputes and a return to work formula
  • Have joint consultations with COTU and FKE on matters of employee policy and administration
  • Promote Industrial Trade Unionism as opposed to Craft Trade Unionism
  • Ensure no overlaps among registered unions through clear definition of each Union
  • To display the charter in the offices and ensure that officers comply with it.
  1. Employer (FKE)

Individuals or groups of employers undertook:

  • Accord recognition to unions as the negotiating bodies, by signing the recognition Agreement
  • Not to be involved in the right to registration of a union
  • Not to discriminate, malign or coerce any employee because of his union activities
  • To recognize the ILO Convention No. 98 the right to bargain collectively and to organize/associate freely.
  • To take action to settle grievances that may arise in the organisation
  • To implement all decisions in the CBA
  • Not to be irrational be able to distinguish between acts that require dismissal and those that require other less severe disciplinary action
  • To avail time and opportunity of ordinary workers to reach employer/management on personal maters
  • To let managers and workers know about the charter and give the document publicity.
  1. COTU (for employees)

The union under took to:

  • Discourage breach of peace or civil commotion by Union Members
  • Ensure the union representatives do not encourage or cause members to engage in union activities during working hours
  • Discourage members from neglect of duty, destruction of property, use of abusive language and disturbance of normal work
  • Make the charter known to members and give it publicity
  • Promote a high degree of union membership so that CBA covers a majority of workers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *