LAWS RELATING TO TRADE UNIONS
5.1 Trade union concept
Trade Union defined as per Cap 233 of the Laws of Kenya, it means an combination whether temporary or permanent of more than six employees and must be registered by the registrar of trade unions, who come together to ensure that their interests are protected.
Advantages of trade union membership
- There is strength in numbers
- Improved conditions of employment
- Improved workplace environment/working conditions.
- Improved sickness benefits, pensions and retrenchment benefits, fringe benefits e.t.c.
- Improved job satisfaction and encourage training
- Advice and financial support e.g. redundancy.
Reasons why employees join trade unions
Reasons why employees join trade unions
The important forces that make the employees join a union are as follows:
- Greater Bargaining Power
The individual employee possesses very little bargaining power as compared to that of his employer. If he is not satisfied with the wage and other conditions of employment, he can leave the job. It is not practicable to continually resign from one job after another when he is dissatisfied. This imposes a great financial and emotional burden upon the worker. The better course for him is to join a union that can take concerted action against the employer. The threat or actuality of a strike by a union is a powerful tool that often causes the employer to accept the demands of the workers for better conditions of employment.
- Minimize Discrimination
The decisions regarding pay, work, transfer, promotion, etc. are highly subjective in nature. The personal relationships existing between the supervisor and each of his subordinates may influence the management. Thus, there are chances of favoritisms and discriminations. A trade union can compel the management to formulate personnel policies that press for equality of treatment to the workers. All the labor decisions of the management are under close scrutiny of the labor union. This has the effect of minimizing favoritism and discrimination.
- Sense of Security
The employees may join the unions because of their belief that it is an effective way to secure adequate protection from various types of hazards and income insecurity such as accident, injury, illness, unemployment, etc. The trade union secure retirement benefits of the workers and compel the management to invest in welfare services for the benefit of the workers.
- Sense of Participation
The employees can participate in management of matters affecting their interests only if they join trade unions. They can influence the decisions that are taken as a result of collective bargaining between the union and the management.
- Sense of Belongingness
Many employees join a union because their co-workers are the members of the union. At times, an employee joins a union under group pressure; if he does not, he often has a very difficult time at work. On the other hand, those who are members of a union feel that they gain respect in the eyes of their fellow workers. They can also discuss their problem with’ the trade union leaders.
- Platform for self expression
The desire for self-expression is a fundamental human drive for most people. All of us wish to share our feelings, ideas and opinions with others. Similarly the workers also want the management to listen to them. A trade union provides such a forum where the feelings, ideas and opinions of the workers could be discussed. It can also transmit the feelings, ideas, opinions and complaints of the workers to the management.
- Betterment of relationships
Another reason for employees joining unions is that employees feel that unions can fulfill the important need for adequate machinery for proper maintenance of employer-employee relations. Unions help in betterment of industrial relations among management and workers by solving the problems peacefully.
5.2 Provision of Trade Union Act (Laws of Kenya)
Trade Union defined as per Cap 233 of the Laws of Kenya, it means an combination whether temporary or permanent of more than six persons and must be registered by the registrar of trade unions.
Employees Association means an association or combination, whether temporary or permanent, of more than six employees who work for the same employer, which has as its principal purpose the regulation of relations between such employees and their employer or between such employees amongst employees.
Employees organization means an association or combination, whether temporary or permanent of more than six employees who work for different employers, which has as its principal purpose the regulation of relations between such employees and their employers or between such employees and their employers or between such employees amongst themselves.
Staff Association means an association or combination of more than 6 employees employed in a civilian capacity under the government or local authority and the principal object of which is regulations of relations of employees or government or local authority.
NB: It is worth noting that only registered trade unions can bargain/negotiate for wages.
Provision of Trade Union Act Includes:
- Appointment of Registrar and other officers:
– The Minister shall appoint a Registrar of Trade Unions, who shall be responsible for the due performance of the duties and functions assigned to him as Register under this Act.
– The Minister may also appoint a Deputy Registrar of Trade Unions and one or more Assistant Registrars of Trade Unions and such other officers as may from time to time be required for the purposes of this Act. Section 7 of Cap 233 says that no suit shall be brought against any of the officers for anything done or omitted to be done by him in good faith and without negligence.
– The trade union registration is to be done within 28 days. Any trade union which fails to register within 28 days can be fined 5000 or jailed.
– Every application for registration shall be made to the Registrar in the prescribed form, and shall be signed by at least seven members of the union.
– In case of association of trade unions, the prescribed form shall be signed by the chairman and general secretary of each of the member trade unions.
– Every application for registration shall be accompanied by the prescribed fee and a copy of the rules of the unions and statement of the following particulars namely:
- The names, occupations and addresses of members making the application (or in case of an association of trade unions)
- The names and addresses of the registered office of each members trade union
- The name of the union and the address of its registered office
- Titles, names, ages, addresses and occupations of the officers of the union. e) When it was cancelled/suspended.
- f) Date of registration or dissolution
– The Registrar may refuse to register a trade union and defer its registration and notify it accordingly.
– Upon that deferment the trade union shall become a probationary trade union
– The Registrar, on registering a trade union under section 11 or section 12, shall issue to the union a certificate of registration in the prescribed form, and that certificate, unless proved to have been cancelled or withdrawn, shall be conclusive evidence for all purposes that this trade union has been duly registered under this Act.
– The Registrar may call for further information for the purpose of satisfying himself that any application complies with the provisions of section 10 or that the trade union is entitled to registration under this Act.
– The Registrar has the power to alter the name of a trade union – if the name proposed to be registered is identical with that by which any other existing trade union has been registered.
– Or if in the opinion of the Registrar the name proposed resembles or may mislead the members of the Public the Registrar may alter the name proposed for the trade union.
The Registrar may refuse to register any trade union or probationary trade union if he is satisfied that:
a) The union has not complied with the provisions of this Act or any regulations made there under or
b) Any of the objects of the constitution of the union is unlawful or conflicts with any such provision or
c) The union is used for unlawful purposes
d) Any other trade union already registered is;
i) In the case of a trade union of employers or of employees, sufficiently representative of the whole or of a substantial proportion of the interests in respect of which the applicants seek registration
ii) In the case of an association of trade unions, sufficiently representative of the whole or a substantial proportion of the trade unions eligible for membership thereof.
e) The principal purpose of the trade union registration are not in accord with those set out in the definition of trade union‛ contained in section 2
f) The funds of the union are being applied unlawful
g) The accounts of the union are not being properly kept
h) The secretary or treasurer of the union is in his opinion incapable by reason of not being sufficiently literate in English or Swahili language of carrying out adequately the duties of secretary or treasurer
- At the request of the trade union upon its dissolution, to be verified in such manner as the registrar may require
- If he is satisfied that the trade union has ceased to exist
Registration of branches of trade unions – Application for registration of a branch of a trade union shall be made by the secretary of the trade union concerned within 28 days form the date of its formation and shall be signed by the secretary.
– It shall be accompanied by the prescribed fee (if any) and shall contain the following particulars:
- The name of the union concerned, the name of the branch, the postal address of the branch office or of the place of meeting for carrying out the business of the branch
- The titles, names, ages, addresses and occupations of all the officers of the branch
– Whenever any branch of a trade union is dissolved, notice of dissolution shall be given by the secretary of the union concerned to the registrar who shall subject to subsection (3) and subsection (4) there upon cancel the registration of that branch
– Before registering a branch of a trade union or canceling the registration of a branch of a trade union, the registrar may require the production of a such evidence relating to the formation or dissolution of the branch as the deems necessary
Dissolution of a trade union
When a trade union, employer’s organization or federation is dissolved, it shall give notice of the dissolution which;
shall be submitted to the registrar within fourteen days of the resolution to dissolve and
shall be signed;
i) By authorized representative
ii) By seven members of a trade union or three members of employer’s organization or federation.
The registrar shall;
- issue a certificate of dissolution
- register the dissolution if satisfied that the dissolution complies with the applicable constitution.
The dissolution of a trade union, employer’s organization or federation takes effect from the date of its registration.
Any person aggrieved by a decision of the registrar made under this Act may appeal to the industrial court against that decision within thirty days of the decision.
Provisions regarding trade union funds
The funds of a trade union, employers’ organization or federation may be used only for the following purposes:
- Payment of salaries, allowances and expenses to its officials.
- The payments of expenses for the administration of the trade union, employers’ organization or federation including auditing of its accounts.
- The prosecution o defense of any legal proceedings to which the trade union, employers organization or federation or any member thereof is a party.
- The conduct of trade disputes on its behalf or on behalf of any member thereof.
- The compensation of members for loss arising out of trade disputes.
- the payment of allowances to members or to their dependants on account of death, old age, sickness, accidents or unemployment of those members.
- Payment of subscriptions and fees to any registered federation to which it is affiliated.
Deduction of trade union dues
Trade union dues means a regular subscription to be paid to a trade union by a member of the trade union a condition of membership. A trade union may, in the prescribed form, request the minister to issue an order directing an employer to;
- Deduct trade union dues from the wages of its members
- pay monies so deducted into a specified account of the trade union
An employer in respect of whom the minister has issued an order shall commence deducting the trade union dues from an employee’s wages within thirty days of the trade union serving a notice signed by the employees in respect of whom the employer is required to make a deduction.
An employer may not make any deduction from an employee who has notified the employer in writing that the employee has resigned from the union.