The jobs of nearly 150 Tuskys Supermarket employees are at risk following closure of the retailer’s two stores at the city centre in Nairobi.
The affected staff who used to work in the two Tuskys stores on Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala streets were asked to report Thursday at the retail chain’s headquarters on Mombasa Road.
The two outlets were closed following an order by the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) reversing an intended takeover of the business from Tuskys’ rival, Ukwala Supermarkets.
“The contracts of employees who were hired from Ukwala in February and those who have been here for one year all expired last Thursday and are yet to be renewed,” said a Tuskys employee who spoke to the Business Daily on condition of anonymity.
Tuskys declined to comment on the matter while queries sent through the retailer’s advocates, KN Associates LLP, had not been responded to by the time of going to press.
The retail chain, which is Kenya’s second biggest after Nakumatt, will have to decide what to do with the employees it absorbed from the two former Ukwala stores, and whose contracts are yet to be renewed after expiring on July 31.
Employees who were redeployed from other Tuskys stores to work in the now closed branches and were not on contract will also report to the retailer’s Mombasa Road head office Thursday morning.
“About 40 of us work in the warehouse at the head office while about 220 are working in three affected stores including Jogoo Road which is still open.”
The agency’s decision gave Tuskys a conditional greenlight for the retailer to buy Ukwala’s Jogoo Road branch but rejected an application to acquire five outlets within the central business district.
The five branches that Tuskys intended to acquire include Ukwala Hyper, Hakati and Haile Selassie outlets as well as the ones on Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala streets whose employees are now at home.
CAK reckons that an unconditional buyout of the six outlets would result in Tuskys’ market dominance and reduced competition in Nairobi’s retail sector.
The Business Daily has since learnt that the workers who were redeployed from other Tuskys stores to work in the now closed outlets will still earn their basic pay less overtime, even for the days the stores will remain closed.
The staff are unionised under the Kenya Union of Commercial Food and Allied Workers and are currently being paid between Sh9,000 and Sh11,000 a month to work for seven-and-a-half hours a day.
They are also normally entitled to overtime which is payable for any extra input up to a maximum of three more hours, money they will now have to do without for the duration of the stores’ closure.
Contracted staff who came in from Ukwala are being paid between Sh13,000 and Sh16,000 a month, with the latter amount being the going rate for supervisors at the retail chain.
Representatives of the trade union at Tuskys said they are hopeful the two retailers would absorb both sets of employees adding that they will make a formal statement after Thursday’s meeting with the management team.
The union last Friday obtained interim orders from the Industrial Court stopping Tuskys from introducing performance indicators and new qualification benchmarks.
Even as the two retailers grapple with their employees, it is still chalking up losses every day the stores remain closed.