Kenyan Port Workers Strike Over Higher Health Costs

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

July 1, 2015

More than 2,000 workers at East Africa's biggest port in Kenya's coastal city Mombasa went on strike on Wednesday protesting an increase in the amount they will have to pay for state-run health insurance.
Cargo ships remained unattended as workers gathered and held discussions in groups at the port, the biggest in the region, which handles imports such as fuel for Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.
"The operations section is among those affected but senior officials at the port are currently meeting, and will communicate later," Sylvan Mghanga, an official from the corporate communications department at the port, told Reuters.
Abubakar Mohamed Abdullahi, deputy secretary general of the port workers union, said workers were concerned the government had increased the monthly National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) deductions from 320 shillings ($3.22) to 1,700 shillings ($17.13) without increasing their salaries.
"Our union officials had a discussion with the labour minister about this, but there was no consensus. Yet, the government still went ahead and gazetted the new NHIF rates which we had not agreed on," Abdullahi said.
On Sunday the workers paralysed operations over the same allegations but later returned to work after union officials told them they had been invited to a meeting by government and port management to seek a solution.
($1 = 99.2500 Kenyan shillings)

(By Joseph Akwiri; writing by Edith Honan; editing by James Macharia)
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