Raila accuses Atwoli of ignoring workers plight
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance leader Raila Odinga has hit out at Central Organization of Trade Union (COTU) Secretary General (SG) Francis Atwoli for the first time since their fallout.
According to Mr Odinga, Mr Atwoli has forgotten his role as the workers’ watchdog and has instead taken to dining with the government.
Addressing the press on May 8, 2023, in Nairobi over the proposed Finance Bill 2023 by the Kenya Kwanza government, Odinga said Atwoli is already ‘in bed with the government’ and that he is no longer performing his duties defending Kenyan worker’s affairs.
“Workers movement has gone to bed with this regime. Kenyan workers are now on their own,” the former Prime Minister alleged.
Mr Atwoli was Odinga’s biggest cheerleader in the run-up to the August 2022 polls.
After the general elections, he switched to supporting President William Ruto.
Lamenting over the silence of Cotu, Odinga, however, urged the union to revive its voice where in the past it was praised for defending workers’ rights.
During 2023 Labour Day celebrations, Atwoli urged Raila Odinga to call off his cause on demonstrations advising him to use the ‘right mechanisms in championing his complaints’.
The protests are on hold.
The opposition leader has voiced Azimio’s stand on the proposed Finance Bill 2023, which if passed by the assemblies will result in an increase in taxes and levies.
The Ruto-led administration proposes an increase of tax on fuel from the current 8 percent to 16.
The government is also gunning to tax workers 3% of their salary with the funds channeled towards the housing fund, with a further tax for the NHIF kitty.
The proposals also aim at increasing taxes on salaries, as well as taxing earnings from digital content creators.
Mr Odinga termed the bill as bad for the economy and urged lawmakers to reject it.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader, also proposes an immediate stoppage of nonessential officers like CAS and aides, the positions he stated are incurring unnecessary expenses.