WORKERS' WELFARE

Chemelil factory suspends 29 workers

They're accused of leading riots that attempted to disrupt activities at the plant

In Summary
  • The director, however, said that the company resumed normal operations on January 25, with all workers back to work.
  • Ministry of Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Ann Nyaga condemned the incident, terming it unfortunate.

Sugarcane at Chemelil Sugar Factory
Image: faith matete

Twenty nine Chemelil Sugar Factory workers have been suspended for 21 days.

The workers were the leading team in the riots that were witnessed at the factory on Monday and Tuesday. 

This was confirmed by the managing director Gabriel Nyangweso. 

The director, however, said the company resumed normal operations on January 25, with all workers back.

Earlier, he said that the strike was going against the directive issued by the Ministry of Agriculture that outlined a number of measures aimed at revitalising the firm.

"There is also an existing court case that had put on hold the strike by the workers until a case they lodged in court is heard and dispensed," he said.

On Tuesday, 29 people were arrested following a standoff over the control and management of the state-owned sugar mill. 

A section of workers tried to deny the Nyangweso access to the mill, claiming he had been sent on compulsory leave.

Ministry of Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Ann Nyaga condemned the incident, terming it unfortunate.

“We expected calm, and that the machines would not be interfered with but that is not what we are getting from the union," she said.

She added that people can have disagreements but there are ways to go about them.

“Those are illegal actions. There are ways of expressing grievances in different manners,”the CAS said.

A series of meetings had been held between the management of the company and the Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers since December 22 last year.

However, last Wednesday, a resolution was made for the company to adhere to and communicate to all the workers during a meeting of the interim management committee, representatives of the union, company management and AFA-Sugar Directorate.

“The main interest of the ministry was to ensure that this factory is running continuously because many critical people benefit from this factory."

She added: “As we continue to work on this, we would not want anything antagonising the running of the factory.”

In other resolutions, in terms of factory operations, the Agriculture ministry will appoint a board of directors to oversee the management of the company.

On payment of retirees, “the payment of retirees benefits to continue as is the case currently but other payment plans taking into consideration for a lump sum payment, to be explored and communicated to the ministry for approval. Timeline is August 2022," she said.

Nyaga said in the resolution that to ensure the sugar factory operates continuously and generates the much-desired revenue, all workers are expected to maintain discipline and commitment at their places of work at all times.

‘They should desist from activities that can lead to any loss such as switching off of machines without engineers authority or when there is no breakdown.”

She said indiscipline will not be condoned and firm action will be taken against those found jeopardising factory operation.

(edited by Amol Awuor)