A strke by 600 Primarosa flower farm workers in Nyandarua West district entered its third day yesterday. Workers have have downed their tools alleging sexual harassment of women staff. The employees vowed to boycott their duties until their grievances are addressed.
The farm management responded by locking them out and hiring AP officers to ensure that no worker gains entry into the farm. The workers said their problems have increased and when they sent their shop steward Evans Ratemo to present their grievances to the officials, he was sacked.
Employees claim no woman can be promoted without giving in to sexual demands of some of the senior officials. “We are irked by the behaviour of these people and when we complain they tell us to seek jobs elsewhere. They are taking advantage of the unemployment situation in the country to oppress us,” said Ruth Bosibori one of the workers.
The men said they are not allowed sick-offs, and employees are sacked without compensation if they get sick or maimed in the course of duty. They gave an example of one Judy Moraa who was electrocuted while at work and her hand is paralysed. Moraa’s husband Peter Omae who works in the green houses section said she was dismissed without any compensation. “The salary is also very low but we have to persevere because we have no choice,” Omae said.
The employees said 14 people were recently fired after being involved in an accident with the company’s vehicle on their way to work. They said the company refused to cater for their medical bills and they had to seek legal redress at a Nyahururu court when they were fired.
Other problems raised were lack of gloves, uniforms, adequate drugs at the firms dispensary, harassment by security guards and general high handedness by the authorities. Union officials said to have travelled from Kitale were kept waiting at the gate the media was not allowed inside the farm.