DOUBLE TRAGEDY

Anger as farm sacks over 1,200 workers

Farm hiring new ones on lower pay.

In Summary
  • Some workers were away on three-month unpaid leave.
  • The management refused to talk to the media. 
Workers prepare flowers for export.
Workers prepare flowers for export.
Image: FILE

The Kenya Plantations and Agricultural Workers Union is up in arms after a flower farm sent home more than 1,200 workers and soon after started hiring new ones on lower salaries.

The union has accused the Naivasha farm of going against the labour laws and using the Covid-19 pandemic to illegally fire workers, some of whom were away on three-month unpaid leave.

The management refused to talk to the media. 

Naivasha KPAWU branch secretary Ferdinand Juma said the union had not been engaged in the talks.

“Everyone understands that the pandemic has caused a crisis in this sector but the management should not use this to illegally sack 1,200 workers,” he said.

Addressing the press at the farm, Juma said some employees had served for more than 20 years.

“The employer claims that the market is poor but proceeds to hire workers and this will lead to enmity and crime in this area,” he said.

Olkaria MCA Peter Pallang’a said workers are losing their jobs on a weekly basis.

He urged Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli to fight for the workers’ rights instead of engaging in politics.

“We understand that Covid-19 has created an economic crisis but employers should not use this to sack workers on flimsy grounds,” Pallang’a said.

 

He said the workers' sacco dues have been missing for a couple of years, further aggravating their suffering.

One of the workers who declined to be named said the management had not given them adequate reasons for their sacking.

“We were called for a meeting only to be told that our services were no longer needed and yet the employer has not provided us with our life savings and dues,” he said.

Another worker said their children were sleeping hungry.

“We are facing double tragedy due to loss of jobs and the pandemic, and we are asking for the government to come to our rescue in terms of food supply,” she said.

Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya