Local workers complain of harassment by Chinese supervisors

Thursday June 29 2017

Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town. Local

Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town. Local workers renovating the stadium have complained that they are being harassed by their Chinese supervisors. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By BRENDA GAMODE
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hCasual workers for a Chinese company renovating Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret have complained about physical and verbal harassment by their Chinese supervisors.

One labourer, Moses Makitare, said some of the Chinese employees of Weihai International Construction Engineering Company were physically assaulting Kenyan workers.

“I was hired for a three-month contract and the working conditions at the stadium are not favourable, because we are facing abuse from the Chinese staff. They kick and slap workers every now and then,” said Mr Makitare.

“Early this week, I intervened to stop a Chinese supervisor from kicking one of my colleagues, but I was summoned and my contract was terminated,” he told the Nation on Thursday.

SUPERVISORS

Another worker, who requested not to be named for fear of victimisation, said he had seen colleagues being assaulted by the supervisors.

He said a language barrier contributes to the verbal abuse as the Chinese supervisors do not understand Swahili.

“It is true that physical and verbal abuse has been going on. There is a language barrier in the place, so when we fail to understand what they are saying, or they don't understand what we are saying, they end up kicking and slapping us. It is so sad that this occurs almost daily,” he said.

Though their contracts state a workday of eight hours, the workers complained, they work for nine to 10 hours a day and are not paid overtime.

STAFF MEETING

“We have raised this issue but nothing has been done - in fact, when a worker goes to ask or seek an explanation, they are fired,” another labourer told the Nation.

A local engineer at the construction site, Senior Tarus, acknowledged that he had received complaints and that investigations had started.

“We have heard complaints of abuse from the workers; yesterday (Wednesday), we held a staff meeting to address that,” Mr Tarus said by phone.

He dismissed Mr Makitare’s claim that he was sacked for standing up to the Chinese supervisors, saying there was a disagreement but that he will be reinstated.

The stadium will host the 2018 Africa Nations Championships.