Chinese firm fires 1,000 striking SGR workers in Naivasha

A view of the standard gauge railway at Taru bridge, March 2017. /John Chesoli
A view of the standard gauge railway at Taru bridge, March 2017. /John Chesoli

The Chinese company constructing

the SGR in Naivasha has sacked about 1,000 striking workers.

Chinese Communications and Construction Company sent the workers home as they ignored calls to end their strike.

In the notice sent to government offices on Monday, the company noted the move was illegal and that demands for higher salaries were unconstitutional.

Workers at the Satellite Site in Mai Mahiu camped outside the contractor's office for about a week, demanding more money and better means of transport.

On

Saturday, they were involved in running battles with anti-riot police officers after blocking Mai Mahiu-Narok road, leading to a major traffic snarl-up.

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Following the impasse, the contractor issued the notice that says those who did not not report today

should consider themselves sacked.

“All those employees [taking part] in the illegal strike and those who failed to resume work on January 8 ... the management recognises that they have resigned automatically,” the notice states.

“Your basic minimum wages are much more than the ones under the regulation of wages amendment of 2017."

Speaking in his office, Naivasha sub-county commissioner Isaac Masinde confirmed the sacking and noted the strike was illegal and unprotected by law.

Masinde said the workers

had not issued a notice as required and that some of their demands were unconstitutional.

“The workers have been misled by their leaders on the issue of salary increases. They should learn that there are set procedures in adjusting wages."

Terming the standard gauge railway project "very crucial", Masinde said they will ensure it continues as planned and without delays.

But Naivasha MP Jane Kihara blamed the project manager for the "mess" and warned "things could get worse in the coming days if locals are not recognised".

Kihara said the contractor ignored a committee appointed by the workers and residents and chose to work with cartels.

“Majority of those employed are not from around this area and the project manager is working with a cartel, leading to crafty deals and the current mess."