Kenya's Matatu drivers and touts may soon have permanent jobs with full benefits if a workers union has its way

Lack of recognition of drivers, touts and other crew members of PSVs as employees deprives them of the benefits and protection guaranteed by the law.

The Kenya National Union of Co-operatives Staff has moved to court to have more than 700 companies operating matatus compelled to formalise the employment of their workers.

“We seek a declaration that non-recognition of drivers, conductors and other crew members of PSVs as regular employees, is a violation of their freedoms against discrimination, rights to fair labour practices, social security, equal protection and equal benefit of the law,” says the union in court papers.

The union, through lawyer George Miyare, argues that the 707 matatu Saccos and companies have failed to comply with NTSA (Operation of PSVs) Regulations, 2014 which gave responsibility over PSVs to Saccos and companies operating matatus.

One of their key operational duty of the act, he argues is the employment and management of staff working in the PSVs industry.

As a result Saccos have contravened not only the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) laws but also labour laws and the Constitution.

This has seen drivers, conductors, and other crew members of the Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) get exploited by Saccos.

“This has been to the disadvantage of their drivers, conductors and other staff members employed to work in the said vehicles, who are blatantly discriminated against, mistreated and exploited,” lawyer Miyare says.

PSVs staff are therefore forced to work overtime daily with no additional pay, he says.

Lack of recognition of drivers, conductors and other crew members of PSVs as employees also deprives them of the benefits and protection guaranteed by the law.

The government does not benefit either and loses tax revenues from the Saccos and companies, or owners in form of PAYE.

The Union goes further and squarely blames the non-compliance with the act to the current disorder in the public transport sector and road accidents since unabated Matatu owners compete to maximise their profits at the expense of the rights of drivers, conductors and other crew members.

As per the NTSA (Operation of PSVs) Regulations, 2014 matatu driver, touts and other staff are entailed to statutory deductions, health and safety of the workplace, work injuries benefits, insurance, statutory leave days and written contracts of employment in accordance with labour laws and regulations.

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