OFFICE OF COUNSELLOR LABOUR PERMANENT MISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA TO THE UNITED NATIONS GENEVA – SWITZERLAND
The International Labour Relations Desk in the Kenya Mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland handles all International Labour Organization Matter (ILO) on behalf of the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development.
The Desk is therefore the liaison point with the ILO in its overall responsibility of helping Kenya to shape and oversee implementation of the country’s Labour Policy and legislation in conformity with International Labour Standards.
In addition to dealing with ILO issues, the Counselor Labour also handles matters relating to International Organization for Migration and the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. (Learn more about ILO here..)
The Counsellor Labour in addition also handles any other duties assigned by the Head of Mission.
Kenya through the Counsellor Labour has been and continues to be Coordinator of the Africa Region Group of the ILO since 2005.
The work plan of Counsellor Labour (CL) is based on the annual ILO, IOM and ECOSOC calendar year events.
The main activities include the ILO Governing Body Sessions which take place in March, June, November and the annual International Labour Conference (ILC) which is held in June.
Other activities are linked to preparatory work which is related to the work of the Governing Body, the International Labour Conference as well as the continuous functional areas of the International Labour Office Secretariat. In addition, there is a lot of work on Document analysis, design and preparation of Kenya Government Draft statements.
Other activities include liaison work with the capital and constituent partners.
The office further participates in the technical and sectoral committee meetings where Kenya is a member by virtue of being a Member of the Governing Body on titular basis.
The annual work plan is usually indicative as work planning process trends to be on going and dynamic.
THE ILO GOVERNING BODY – MARCH SESSION:
This Session take’s place every year and comprises 14 employer members, 14 worker members and 28 Government members.
Kenya being a member of the Governing Body attends all Session and sits on seven technical committees.
The Governing Body determines the agenda of the International Labour Conference. It also undertakes the important work of preparing and adopting programmes and the Budget.
The Governing Body also elects the Director-General and sets up priorities in ILO programmes. It also supervises the implementation of ILO activities.
THE ILO CONFERENCE:
This is the International Parliament of labour matters. The Conference is held annually and is attended by representatives of member states of which Kenya has been a member since 1964. The meeting is held once a year from the first week of June. The 2007 97th Session was held from 29th May to 15th June, 2007.
The Conference is tripartite and Kenya is usually represented by the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) and the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) as well as technical advisors. The total number from Kenya averages 20 people a year.
Lately, the Kenya delegation has included representatives of the International Jobs Office, Treasury, the National Social Security Fund, Judges of the Industrial Court and other relevant institutions.
The Conference is usually punctuated with preliminary meetings for Governments, Workers and Employers.
The Conference main function is the adoption of Conventions and Recommendations and deals with policy orientations, general discussions and resolutions.
The Conference also elects the Governing Body and adopts the programmes and Budget.
The bulk of ILOs work is carried out in several technical committees and plenary sessions. There are at times side events too.
THE ILO GOVERNING BODY JUNE SESSION:
This is held for only half a day in June and does not delve much into the details of March and November Session.
DOCUMENT COLLECTION, SUBMISSION TO CAPITAL, ANALYSIS, EVALUATION, SYNTHESIS AND PREPARATION OF DRAFTS FOR KENYA GOVERNMENT STATEMENTS
Throughout the year, the office carries out research and produces reports on the Work of the ILO. The reports revolve around Work of the Governing Body, International Labour Conference, work of the technical Committees and sectoral activities at headquarters, in the regions and country programmes. The Counsellor Labour is responsible for the documentation, transmission to the capital, analysis of documents and preparation of draft statements.
COORDINATION ACTIVITIES AT CAPITAL AND AFRICA:
As co-coordinator of the African Group since 2005, the office of Counsellor Labour plays a leading role in liaising with tripartite partners in Kenya and convening meetings of the African Group, briefing the African Ambassadors in Geneva on ILO matters, and intensive lobbying and championing of Kenya’s and Africa’s interests.
TECHNICAL COMMITTEE AND SECTORAL MEETINGS:
As a member of the Governing Body, Kenya sits on seven Committees of the ILO including the Finance and Budget Committee, The Building Sub Committee, Committee on Employment and Social Policy, Committee on Multinational Enterprises, The Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards, International Committee on Sectoral and technical Meetings and Related issues, Committee on technical. Cooperation and the Board of the International Training Centre of the ILO in Turin, Italy.
The Office’s work is expected to contribute to the improvement of labour relations, social justice and laws and policies consistent with regional and International labour standards. The overall impact should be an environment suitable for business growth, creation of decent employment and poverty reduction.
ILO ASSISTANCE TO KENYA
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION’S (ILO) ASSISTANCE TO KENYA
Kenya joined the ILO in 1964 and ever since, the country derives maximum benefits from her membership in this world organization. There are various projects which are undertaken in the Country funded by ILO and other development partners. In 2001, A Task Force funded by the United States of America through the ILO was gazetted by the Attorney General to review old labour laws. The Task Force was composed of nominees from the wider society and representatives of the Key Social Partners, stakeholders – Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), Central organization of Trade Unions (COTU) and the Government
The laws that were reviewed were The Employment Act Cap 226, The Regulation of Wages and Conditions of Employment Act Cap 229, The Trade Unions Act Cap 233, The Trade Disputes Act Cap 234, The Workmen’s Compensation Act Cap 236 and the Factories and Other Places of Work Act Cap 514.
NEW LABOUR LAWS
In November 2007, the 9th parliament enacted the new labour laws to make them consistence with International Labour Standards. The new laws now await Gazettement by the Minister for Labour to make them come into force.
Through the ILO, a number of projects are under implementation in Kenya among these are: the on going programme on Migration in the health sector: The supply side, The ILO Time Bound Programme on Elimination of the worst form of Child Labour, Strengthening labour Relations in East Africa and the Tripartite Declaration on Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises.
INTERNATIONAL TRAINING CENTRE OF THE ILO –STRENGTHENING SPECIFIC COMPETENCIES
A large number of staff from the Ministry of Labour, COTU and FKE have undergone training at the International training Centre of the ILO in Turin and continue to benefit from Standard Courses training Activities at regional and Country level.
KENYA AS MEMBER OF BOARD OF (ILO’S) INTERNATIONAL TRAINING CENTRE (ITC)
The ILO’s Turin Campus was established in 1965 to offer training, learning opportunities and services to tripartite constituents, the United Nations and beyond.
The chair of the Centre is Mr. Juan Somavia, the Director General of ILO. The day to day operations of the Centre are carried out by Mr. Francois Eyraud the executive Director of ILO. Other members of the Board are drawn from Employers and Workers representatives, International Organizations and observers.
Africa’s representatives in the centre are South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire and Mozambique. Other members come from the other three regions of the ILO
The Centre has partnership with regional and National training institutions with 50% of its activities taking place on the campus and the rest take place in the field. The Centre offers group training and specific tailor made Programmes for public and private institutions and other organisations
Lately the Centre has adopted and uses information technology (IT) and internet to offer distance learning and tutorial services
Kenya is carrying on dialogue with the Centre and ILO to Ensure Kenya greater visibility at the Centre and linkages with the Ministry of Labour so as to have some training activates at country level and stronger ties with local institutions such as the Universities and full utilization of Tom Mboya Labour College as an effort to strengthening capacity of Ministry.
A small number of Kenyans are employed within the ILO Structures in the Headquarters, the Addis office and ILO funded projects in Kenya. The Government is still lobbying for more visibility of Kenyans within the ILO especially at high professional levels.