China Road and Bridge Corporation, the firm contracted to operate and maintain the standard gauge railway (SGR), is once again on the spot after it emerged that it had asked its employees to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Effectively, this will bar them from sharing with non-workers and posting on social media information, videos or photos about SGR operations that the firm deems negative.
Judging from the criticism that followed the revelation, Kenyans who took to social media feel that the move, especially coming after the company was on several occasions accused of violating workers’ rights, amounts to an attempt to close avenues available to employees to speak out.
Non-disclosure agreements are common in the Kenyan employment scene. But companies specifically use them to protect trade secrets such as intellectual property.
Rarely do they employ them to silence employees on matters concerning their welfare or even how they are treating ordinary clients or suppliers.
We would like to challenge the company to address workers’ issues instead of sweeping them under the carpet. It is the best way to protect the reputation of the taxpayer-funded project and disapprove a negative perception that has taken root about the human resource practices of Chinese firms.