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Minister Speaks Out On Civil Servants Union

The Nation, 4 February 2001

Nairobi - Labour Minister Joseph Ngutu has finally ended his silence over calls on him to lift the ban slapped on the Civil Servants Union 21 years ago.

He conceded the Government had received five applications and was studying them.

However, Mr. Ngutu took issue with one of the applicants, Union of Public Servants of Kenya, for launching membership recruitment before getting the greenlight from the registrar of trade unions.

Last month, the union's interim secretary-general, Mr. Harun Mwaura, announced he had submitted his application and appealed to civil servants to register as members pending registration, claiming it was legal.

But on Friday, the minister said: "The ministry believes it would be premature for any interested group to engage in recruitment, as reported in the Press. I, therefore, wish to appeal to all interested groups to be patient and give the Government adequate time to sort out the matter."

Last week, board members of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) held a meeting with President Moi at State House, Nakuru, but did not raise the issue of mass retrenchment of civil servants.

Instead, the board, led by Secretary-General Joseph Mugalla, appealed to the President to intervene to lift the ban.

State House sources said the President promised to study the Cotu request but was non-committal on when he would make his views public.

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