7 reasons your employer doesn’t want you to join a labor union!


President William Ruto and COTU secretary general Francis Atwoli during the Labour Day Celebrations .Photo Courtesy

7 reasons your employer doesn’t want you to join a labor union & why you should consider joining one.  By  Calister Bonareri


A labor union is an organization that is formed by a group of workers in the same industry or sector to represent their interests in matters related to employment. The primary purpose of a labor union is to negotiate with employers on behalf of their members for better wages, benefits, working conditions, and other employment-related issues. In Kenya, labor unions are also involved in advocating for workers’ rights and promoting social justice. Labor unions can be registered with the Ministry of Labor and operate under the provisions of the Labor Relations Act.

A good example of a labor union is Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) .This is the largest umbrella trade union in Kenya, representing workers from various sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, education, health, and transport.

It is important to note that in Kenya, it is illegal for employers to prevent their employees from joining or forming a union, and employers who violate labor laws can face penalties and fines. Workers should be aware of their rights and should report any violations to the relevant authorities, such as the Ministry of Labor.

However, there are many organizations where joining a labor organization is forbidden. This is usually an unspoken rule know only to employees. In such organizations employees who want to keep their jobs steer clear of labor organizations as it could lead to termination of employment.

Here are 7 reasons your employer doesn’t want you to join a labor union.

Control: Employers may view unions as a threat to their control over their employees. Unions can negotiate on behalf of workers, and this can limit the employer’s ability to set wages and working conditions unilaterally.


Cost: Unions can also increase labor costs for employers by negotiating for higher wages, benefits, and job security. Some employers may see unionization as a threat to their bottom line and seek to prevent it from happening.


Flexibility: Employers may also feel that unions limit their ability to be flexible in response to changing business conditions. Union contracts can sometimes limit an employer’s ability to change job responsibilities or shift work schedules, which can be a concern for employers who need to be able to respond quickly to changing market conditions.


Ideology: Some employers may be ideologically opposed to unions and believe that they are harmful to business and the economy as a whole

Misconceptions: Some employers may hold misconceptions about unions and believe that they are only for unskilled or low-wage workers.

Negative experiences: Some employers may have had negative experiences with unions in the past, such as strikes or disputes, which may influence their decision to prevent employees from joining.

Communication issues: Employers may have a communication breakdown with their workers, leading to misunderstandings and mistrust. Unions may serve as an intermediary in these situations, which some employers may see as a threat to their relationship with their employees.

It is important to note that regardless of the reason, preventing workers from joining a union is illegal in Kenya. Employers who violate labor laws can face penalties and fines, and workers should be aware of their rights and report any violations to the relevant authorities.


Here are the 5 benefits of joining a labor union.

Collective Bargaining: Unions represent the collective interests of workers and can negotiate with employers for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Through collective bargaining, unions can negotiate better terms and working conditions that can lead to higher wages, better benefits, and improved job security.

Workplace Rights: Unions advocate for the rights of workers, including issues related to health and safety, equal opportunity, and fair treatment. Unions can help protect workers from discrimination, harassment, and other unfair labor practices.


Job Security: Unions can provide job security by protecting workers from arbitrary dismissals and unjust disciplinary actions. Unions can also advocate for policies that protect jobs, such as job training programs, and by opposing outsourcing and offshoring.


Political Influence: Unions can use their collective bargaining power to influence public policy, including labor laws, workplace safety regulations, and other laws that benefit workers.


Professional Development: Unions can offer training and professional development opportunities for their members, helping workers improve their skills and advance their careers.


Christine Kaari is a lawyer who specialized in employment law states that Unions play a major role in Collaborative Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) which have helped improve the terms of employment of workers covered under CBA.

“When an employee has an issue with the employer, the first place they go to is the Union. The union Officials then write to the employer to get them to address the grievances, if the employer doesn’t do anything, the union officials take the case to a lawyer in court. In most cases the union pays the employee’s legal fees, ” emphasizes Christine.


The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection in Kenya maintains a register of trade unions that are registered in the country. You can access the list of registered trade unions in Kenya through the Ministry’s website or by visiting the Ministry’s offices. Here’s the link to the Ministry’s website: https://labour.go.ke/


You can also find information on trade unions in Kenya from the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) website, which is the largest umbrella trade union in Kenya. Their website is: https://cotu-kenya.org/


Overall, joining a labor union can provide workers with greater bargaining power, better working conditions, and more job security.


About the writer

Calister Bonareri is a Business Journalist, Entrepreneur, Business consultant in the beauty industry and gender advocate based in Nairobi, Kenya.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/calister-bonareri/

Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/fbonareri

Email: Kallyb89@gmail.com








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