Roadblocks barring striking workers access, claims Atwoli

Oct 31, 2010

Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli wants road blocks barring public entry into tea estates by multinational companies to be removed.

Atwoli claims striking tea workers of the James Finlays, George Williamson and Unilever Tea Companies have been denied free movement and access to essential services in urban centres outside the tea estates after the closure of the roads in the estates.

Atwoli who is also the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) secretary general said the heavy presence of company guards and Administration Police (AP) officers at the makeshift roadblocks were intimidating the striking workers.

He said communities who had been using the estate roads were now being forced to use longer routes to access Kericho and Bomet towns for essential services like medical services after the closure of companies’ routes.

The workers have been striking over the introduction of tea plucking machines at the companies’ estates and Atwoli vows the strike would continue until the multi nationals agreed to negotiate with KPAWU on the percentage of machine usage.

He said apart from the loss of jobs occasioned by mechanization of tea plucking, the process had compromised tea quality as Kenyan Tea which was the best tea in the world had dropped to number seven due to mechanization.

Meanwhile the Communications Workers Union has issued a notice of a strike for Postal Corporation of Kenya workers beginning 10 November 2010.

The Union secretary general Benson Okwaro says the call to strike comes following unfruitful negotiations with the corporation over a Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement.

The workers are demanding a 50% salary increment as well as the resignation of the top human resource management team saying they have continued to frustrate bargaining efforts.

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