800,000 tea staff may lose jobs in strike

October 28

The ongoing standoff between tea firms and pickers over introduction of plucking machines may have far-reaching effects on the welfare of more than 800,000 work force in the industry.

Many are being declared redundant as the management continues to make use of machines.

Multinational firms are adamant over the use of machines.

But trade unionists representing workers led by the Central Organisation of Trade Union (Cotu) secretary-general, Mr Francis Atwoli, on the other hand, have vowed to ensure that it will not be work as usual in these companies unless the machines are withdrawn.

Kenya Plantation Agricultural Workers Union and Cotu called the strike two weeks ago, resulting in a number of pluckers in Nandi District burnt by the protesters.

The management of these companies has employed various tactics to ensure the strike is nipped in the bud before it paralyses their operations.

Some of the tactics are evicting striking staff from company houses and disconnecting water and electricity.

The companies through the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) also obtained a court order barring their employees from striking.

However, Mr Atwoli and KPAWU assistant secretary-general Henry Omasire says a court order they got from the Industrial Court overruled an earlier one by the KFE on behalf of the companies.

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