VENTURES AFRICA – The workers’ strike at Mombasa port is over as the authorities act quickly to provide permanent contracts for the labour force, prompting a return to duties.
Workers on Friday lined up at the port authority’s main offices to collect their employment contracts, whereafter many workers returned to work immediately, allowing operations at the dock – which had been entirely crippled by the strike – to start up again.
The port authorities succeeded in issuing letters of contractual employment to all 3,500 striking workers, in spite of worries that the action may drag out if the authorities take their time in preparing the contracts. The authorities had suggested providing the workers with contracts would take some time, with the port labour force stating it would not resume duties until the letters had been handed over.
The strike at the port of Mombasa – which is Kenya’s second largest city – began on Thursday, as a group of 3,500 workers, mainly port loaders, walked out of work demanding the issuance of proper letters of contractual employment. Some of the workers have been working for more than fifteen years on a casual basis, and now feel they are entitled to the security of fully contractual work and all the related benefits.
Secretary General of the dock workers union Simon Sang informed strikers that their demands had been successful, saying: “Go to your departments. All letters have been dispatched to the departments. Pick your letter and go back to work…Our most important demand has been granted,” reports Reuters.
A crane operator involved in the strike actions, Juma Kassim, commented on the action’s swift success, saying: “It feels a lot better now. At least I am assured of a hefty package when I retire,” adding “I don’t know why the port had to wait until we forced them by striking. I’m sure the port has suffered great losses.”
The Mombasa port is the largest in the East and Central African region – processing exports and imports for Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Somalia, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.