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Union confronts workers’ rights violations at Petro Oil Kenya

22 January, 2020Soon after signing membership forms to join a union, 30 workers at Petro Oil Kenya Limited were dismissed while petrol and diesel stations where the union had majority members were outsourced. The Kenya Petroleum Oil Workers Union (KPOWU), affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, says it will fight against the workers’ and human rights violations and for the reinstatement of the workers.

Since 2011, Petrol Oil Kenya has been denying workers their rights to join a union. KPOWU took the matter to court and on 13 December 2019, the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Mombasa ruled that the company must recognize the union within 30 days of the judgment.

However, instead of complying with the judgment, Petrol Oil Kenya began changing conditions of service for the workers, refusing to allow workers to take off days, and outsourced stations where the union had more members.

According to Kenyan labour laws an employer “shall recognize a trade union for purposes of collective bargaining if that trade union represents the simple majority of unionizable employees.”

By dismissing the unionized workers, Petro Oil Kenya, is denying the KPOWU the right to collective bargaining with the employer which is protected by the law. The union has a simple majority at most of the petrol stations and should be recognized.

Raphael Olala, the general secretary of KPOWU says:

“We are challenging the timing and intention of the termination of more than 30 of our members, and the outsourcing of several stations immediately after workers had signed union membership forms. The harassment, victimization and termination of contracts by Petro Oil Kenya because workers would have joined a union must stop.”

In a letter to the company, IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches, underlines the support for the union’s fight to bring the malpractices to an end:

“We are appalled by Petro Oil Kenya’s blatant denial of workers’ rights to freedom of association, organizing, collective bargaining and fair labour practices which are protected by Kenya’s Constitution, labour laws and International Labour Organization conventions. It is shocking that a company can ignore a court judgment that rules against it and in the union’s favour. As IndustriALL we will continue to fight against the unfair labour practices.”