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Atwoli threatens to call global boycott of foreign tea firms

Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli (right) and his deputy Benson Okwaro in Nairobi November 2, 2017. photo | jeff angote | nmg
Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli (right) and his deputy Benson Okwaro in Nairobi November 2, 2017. photo | jeff angote | nmg 

Central Organisation of Trade Unions secretary-general Francis Atwoli says he has written to tea multinationals’ customers about the poor working conditions and threatened to instigate a buyer boycott.

This follows a strike that has gone on for the last three weeks with workers demanding a 30 per cent pay increase awarded by the court in 2014.

Mr Atwoli says he has also written to International Labour Organisation (ILO) seeking help over the ongoing dispute, claiming the multinationals have defied a court order.

“We have written to ILO and the countries that buy these teas stating the conditions under which our members are working in and so far, we have received good response from them, if the employers refuse to honour the agreement, then we shall call for a boycott,” he said.

But East African Tea Trade Association member Peter Kimanga said he is not aware of Mr Atwoli’s letter. He expressed regret the strike came during the peak demand in the northern hemisphere and at a time multinationals were selling tea at a price 40 per cent higher than Uganda’s.

“We are the second largest buyer and we have not seen any letter. Maybe he wrote to buyers abroad…in any case, those factories are ISO-certified which takes care of labour and environmental standards,” said the Crown Gold manager.

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