Labour relations matters in Kenya is regulated by three bodies. These are the Central Organization of Trade Unions of Kenya, which represents the interests of workers through trade unions; the Federation of Kenya Employers, which is the apex bodies of employers and the Industrial Court which assists in settling disputes.
Central Organization of Trade Unions of Kenya (COTU)
All trade unions in Kenya except Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) are affiliated to COTU.
The objectives of (COTU (K)) are to:
- Improve the economic and social conditions of all workers in all parts of Kenya and to render to them assistance whether or not such workers are employed or have ceased to be employed.
- Assist in the complete organization of all workers in the trade union movement
- Organize the structure and spheres of influence and amalgamation of trade unions affiliated to COTU
- Assist in settling disputes between members of trade unions and their employers or between trade unions and their members or the employees of one union and the employees of another union or between two or more trade unions
- Encourage the principle of the development and maintenance of good relations between employees and employers
- Form area offices of COTU in any specified geographical areas of Kenya where there are braches of registered trade unions
- Secure adequate representation on government boards and committees dealing with labour legislation on matters affecting workers
- Establish and maintain funds by means of membership fees monthly contribution donations subscriptions levis and by borrowing on such securities and terms as may from time to time be arranged by the executive amount as may be determined by the minister for labour.
- Set up appropriate committee to provide training education and other facilities and enterprise for the advancement of workers and the labour movement
Functions of COTU
The functions of COTU follow from its objectives. The reader is cautioned not to confuse objectives and functions though they may appear to be similar. The major functions of COTU are:
- Maintaining and advancing the terms and conditions of employment as well as improving the physical working conditions of all workers in all parts of Kenya.
- Safeguarding and increasing employment opportunities
- Conducting industrial disputes, raising and disbursing funds, in this connection, it assists in settling disputes between members of trade unions and their members or employees of one union and employees if another union or between two or more trade unions:
- Settling up appropriate committees to provide benefits and welfare activities such as education, training, legal aid and sickness benefits;
- Increasing workers’ participation in the control of industry
- Organizing the structure and spheres of influence and amalgamation of trade unions affiliated to COTU;
- Maintaining adequate representation on government boards and committees dealing with labour legislation on matters affecting workers;
- Assisting the complete organization of all workers in trade union movement
- Serving as agencies for the purpose of commenting on economic, social and political affairs