Chemelil staff protest over ‘inept’ managers

Strike Chemelil workers and farmers yesterday. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NMG
Strike Chemelil workers and farmers yesterday. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NMG  

Workers and farmers attached to Chemelil Sugar Company have called for resignation of top managers, accusing them of poor performance.

The workers, who staged protests yesterday, said the management and the board have failed to pay farmers and transporters since 2014.

They complained that since November last year, they have been receiving their salaries as late as mid-month which is affecting their daily routine.

Farmers have also vowed never to deliver cane to the factory unless all their arrears are cleared.

Kenya Union of Sugarcane Allied Workers (KUSPAW) Chairman Samuel Aguet said the workers have not been crushing for the last month because they do not have enough cane.

“We cannot get enough cane unless contracted farmers supply us,” said Mr Aguet.

The miller, he said has not been remitting their deductions to the National Social Security Fund and National Health Insurance Fund.

“We want the management to tell us where they have been taking our money which has since accumulated to over Sh20 million. It is very painful that you get to the hospital and you cannot get treatment using your card because they have not been remitting money,” said Mr Aguet.

Workers also said the factory should employ contracted farmers who have worked in the company for more than 15 years.

“Recently we were with the labour and resolved that the contracted workers be absorbed but the management have failed to address their grievances,” said Mr Aguet.

Chemelil branch secretary Samuel Obera said they would not return to work unless the management is disbanded and new one recruited.

“The factory is functional but we do not have enough cane to crush. We have to be told the fate of the factory before we get back to work,” he said.

He said that they have cleared all the cane in their nuclear farms and growers contracted by the factory have stopped delivering cane to the factory.

“We met the management last week on Monday and they assured us that they will pay the farmers, only to find the weighbridges empty with no cane to crush,” said Mr Obera.

The Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers (KUSPAW) Secretary-General Francis Wangara in a rejoinder with the workers called for the resignation of Mr Owelle saying that it was the prudent step to take.

“If the workers do not want to work with him then let him give way and come back when things are settled,” said Mr Wangara.