EPZ firm suspends staff face recognition system


An aerial view of Hela Intimates staff at work on December 17, 2020. It is located at the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Athi River. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

A clothing manufacturer at the Export Processing Zone Authority (Epza), Hela Intimates, has suspended a facial recognition system that saw more than 2,000 of its staff locked out of its premises.

The firm said the new attendance capturing system using facial recognition was initiated in November 2021 to improve efficiency and reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Workers went on strike early this month fearing that a new payroll system would push some of them out of jobs.

“The new attendance capturing system does not in any way involve the transfer of employees to a different legal entity, or imply a change in the employment status or service benefits of any employee,” the company said in a statement.

The strike saw the company close for a few days and resumed work in phases from February 7.

Hela Intimates is a local subsidiary of Sri Lankan-incorporated Hela Clothing which manufacturers lingerie for European and United States markets.

“Employees’ years of service will not be affected if and when the facial recognition system should be re-introduced in the future,” Shameen Peiris, CEO Hela Intimates, said in a statement. “The system will also not affect employment continuity and will not result in any contract breaks.”

The staff had alleged that the company has been sacking employees who question certain decisions made by the management. Mr Shameen said the management will deploy a new standard operating procedure for communicating information to employees.

The system will ensure everyone is informed of any changes in operational matters.

The company has said it is engaging in discussions with employees on the issues raised.

[email protected]