Losses as striking tea pickers vow to stay away

Monday October 23 2017

tea pickers

Kenya Agricultural and plantation workers’ union national organising secretary Henry Omasire speaks in a past press conference. The union has asked tea pickers in Nandi not to resume work until their salaries are increased. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PHILIP BWAYO
More by this Author
By BARNABAS BII
More by this Author

Multinational tea companies in Nandi County have suffered losses running into millions of shillings as the more than 60,000 striking tea pickers vow to carry on with the boycott until their demands are met.

The workers are demanding the implementation of a 30 per cent salary increment awarded by the Industrial Court in 2014.

Trade unionists representing the workers said Monday they will not call off the strike, which has entered its second week, until the salary increase is fully implemented.

COURT
Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA) had last week received a prohibition order from court barring the union from enforcing the strike but officials said the orders were overtaken by events.

“The strike will go until tea firms honour the court order on salary increment. Only 15 per cent has been effected so far," Kenya Agricultural and plantation workers’ union (KAPWU) national organising secretary Henry Omasire said.

EVICTION

The officials got prohibitory orders from the Labour Court in Kericho last Thursday barring the multinationals from engaging services of the police to evict striking workers from their houses.

“We call upon the workers to keep off the tea farms until the demands are met. They have fallen prey to unfair labour practices being championed by employers in the tea industry,” Mr Omasire said.

WAGE BILL
KAPWU’s deputy secretary general Thomas Kipkemboi accused the employers of deliberately failing to honour the court order through other legal road blocks.

But KTGA is afraid that if the increment is effected, the wage bill of the firms could hit 54 per cent of the production cost, subjecting them to losses.