• Workers complain that they are paid less than what the employer promised
• Wages manager says the status quo to remain until agreement signed with a recognised union
Work at Thwake multipurpose dam came to a standstill yesterday as skilled but casual workers demanded better pay and other terms of engagement.
The workers assembled at the gate complaining that they were paid less than what the employer promised.
They said they worked long hours and that they were discriminated against during recruitment for permanent positions. They said their pay was delayed and that they laid off without valid reasons.
Kyalo Musingila said he worked for only one week after reporting at the dam site in February this year.
“I was subjected to an interview and picked as one of the welders but the only assignment I get some days is in the crasher as a casual,” he said.
The workers demand hourly pay of Sh158 for truck drivers, Sh130 for mechanics and Sh200 for operators.
Welders, masons and carpenters demanded Sh120 per hour while unskilled labourers sought Sh80. The cooks want a salary of Sh35,000-38,000 per month.
The workers accused sub-contractors of preferring newcomers for available vacancies to those who were interviewed for permanent jobs.
Muthama Kiamba, who is in charge of payment, said he pays each category according to the gazetted wages for casuals. He said the state of affairs will remain until a collective bargaining agreement is signed with a registered trade union.
Muthama said each casual took home Sh477 while the employer paid Sh200 to the National Social Security Fund.
“The Chinese contractor is paying the workers within the law and the gazettement and so nothing will change,” he told the Star.
The workers also accused the Chinese of assaulting them.
One said he was kicked at the back and stoned but he hadn’t reported the assault to the police.
Another complaint was the lack of toilets. The workers fear an outbreak of water-borne diseases when the rains come.
“We relieve ourselves in the bushes, including the Chinese when they are not near their camp. We feel unsafe because the water points could be contaminated,” said Damaris Mueni.
The projects liaison officer Dominic Kyenza said in a text message, “Security people who include the administration will be addressing the concerns today at the barrier-gate.”