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How to Join COTU-Kenya

A trade union is described by the Labor Relations Act as “an association of employees whose principal purpose is to regulate relations between employees and employers, including any employer’s organization.”

In Kenya, COTU Kenya is the biggest trade union.

The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU), founded in 1965, is a national trade union in Kenya.

The formation of the union came as a direct consequence of the dissolution of the Kenya Federation of labor and the African Workers Congress.

The organization is currently headed by Rajabu Mwondi who is the chair and the popular and charming Francis Atwoli, who works as the secretary general.

COTU-K is a registered organization that operates within the provisions of the Labor Relations Act of 2007.

COTU’s main mandate is to protect and improve the rights of workers in all sectors of the economy, inclusive of people with disabilities.

This is achieved by supporting and educating workers on their labor rights.

The organization currently has 45 trade unions under it.

What is the procedure that workers have to adhere to in order to join COTU?

Requirements for Joining COTU-K

For one to be a member of COTU-K, section 32 of the Labor Relations Act stipulates that the person must be 18 years of age.

However, provisions are made for people to apply for membership at 16 years. 

Employment is also a basic requirement as COTU-K mainly deals with representing employee plights to their employers.

All members of COTU-K are required to pay KSh 150 on a monthly basis as a membership fee.

This is a new fee up from KSh 50, and it is paid by the employers after other deductions are made from an employee’s gross salary.

Joining COTU- Kenya: Steps to Follow

The procedure for joining COTU-K is rather straightforward. All one needs to do is follow the following steps:

  • Visit the COTU-K website and identify the COTU-affiliated trade union that is associated with workers in your industry or profession. This information can also be acquired through the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection.
  • Once you have identified the trade union, contact them informing them of your interest to join.
  • Supply the union with your personal information including, official name, employment status, and your contact information.
  • The trade union will then give you an application form, specifying the information required and if there is any fee required to be paid. Fill out these forms and submit them to the union and pay the fee required if any.
  • The trade union will then process your application and once it is approved, you will become a member of the union. Membership brings with it all the benefits that come with being represented by COTU-K.

Becoming a member of a trade union is voluntary and the process is protected by the Kenyan law.

Benefits of Joining COTU-K

COTU-K is a powerful organization that pushes even the country’s biggest employer, the government, to handle employee concerns such as salary increments and better working conditions.

This is always done through mass industrial action (strikes) by workers while the organization negotiates on their behalf.

There are various benefits of joining COTU including:

  • Members of COTU generally earn higher salaries than non-members as the organization negotiates better wages on their behalf.
  • Members are protected from exploitation by their employers because COTU pushes companies to strictly adhere to labor laws such as minimum wage, health and safety regulations, and unfair dismissals among many others.
  • COTU-K provides members with legal assistance when they are faced with disciplinary matters or legal actions.

COTU-K has over two million members and they are adequately presented by the organization. For any Kenyan citizen that is employed, it is a wise decision to join COTU-K to be able to maximize the benefits that come with employment.

Kenyalogue Contributor


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