In Summary:
– Ejection is illegal as tenants were not given adequate notice, says union.
– Angry residents had earlier repulsed team led by head of KPA’s housing department.

The ports authority on Sunday evicted 28 workers it sacked on Friday for participating in a two-day strike over the new NHIF rates.

After encountering resistance from angry residents of High Level Estate in Mombasa at noon, an eviction team led by the Kenya Ports Authority’s head of the housing department, only identified as Mrs Kamau, returned at 3pm. It was escorted by armed police officers.

When the Nation team reached the estate at 3.30pm, the evictions were in progress.

Trouble started when Mrs Kamau arrived in the area earlier with her team before heading to the house of the Dock Workers Union (DWU) shop steward, Mr Yakub Mohamed.

On realising that all was not well, the shop steward blocked their way, demanding to be shown his dismissal letter. He said he had not received any from the KPA management.

“Why should a reputable organisation such as KPA hire goons to come and evict us, instead of using its own workers in the housing department?” he asked.

When agitated residents started milling around the scene, Mrs Kamau’s team retreated. They later scampered for safety under a hail of stones.

DWU Secretary-General Simon Sang, who was at the scene, described the eviction order as “unfair and uncalled for” because the housing units literally belong to KPA pensioners.

“Many people are not aware that 60 per cent of the KPA housing units belong to pensioners and the management only has 40 per cent shares,” he said, adding that the tenancy agreement does not allow the authority to evict its workers without issuing a notice,” he said.

Mr Sang said he had sent a text message to the managing director, Mr Gichiri Ndua, informing him of the “illegality” of the eviction order.

“Let KPA be humane because the sacked workers are already suffering. They should be given the mandatory three-month notice to move elsewhere for the sake of their families,” he said.

At noon, a contingent of riot police officers, led by port police boss Zacchaeus Ngeno, arrived and ordered Mr Sang to leave the premises for security reasons. He complied with the directive. The police boss, however, refused to answer questions from the media.

In an earlier press briefing, a DWU splinter group led by Mr Geoffrey Mwanjulu told Mr Sang to call a special conference to replace all sacked union officials.

“The DWU constitution clearly states that if more than three national officials die, resign or are dismissed during their term of office, a special conference should be convened to fill their positions,” said Mr Mwanjulu.

CONSTITUTION

Mr Mwanjulu asked Mr Sang to resign for calling strikes without following the union’s constitution.

“You cannot call a strike without convening a special steering council meeting to endorse it,” he said.

According to Mr Mwanjulu, the majority of the 4,000 unionised workers have lost confidence in Mr Sang over the way he was handling union issues.

Acting Cabinet Secretary James Macharia was on Friday evening reported to have annulled the sacking of the employees.

But later Mr Mr Ndua said the rescinding of dismissal by the ministry touched only on those who had not reported for work by Wednesday.

He said KPA dismissed the workers following consultations within the organisation and based on the fact that the authority did not have a registered dispute with the Dock Workers’ Union.