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Economy

Chinese non-English speaking SGR employees risk losing work permits

The State human rights watchdog will push for
The State human rights watchdog will push for the revocation of work permits for SGR workers from China who cannot express themselves in the country’s official languages. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The State human rights watchdog will push for the revocation of work permits for SGR workers from China who cannot express themselves in the country’s official languages.

Kagwira Mbogori, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) chairperson said they will next week launch investigations into alleged mistreatment of Kenyans by Chinese supervisors who cannot express themselves in either English or Kiswahili.

“Our view is that no migrant worker should be allowed to work in Kenya if they can’t express themselves fluently either in English or Kiswahili,” Ms Mbogori told Senate standing committee on Labour and Social Welfare.

The committee had invited the KNCHR, the Labour Cabinet Secretary (CS) Ukur Yatani, Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina and Central Organisations of Trade Unions over reports of mistreatment and discrimination of Kenyans working at the SGR.

Mr Maina told the team chaired by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja that the 841 Chinese working at the Mombasa-Nairobi line have been undertaking evening English classes three days a week.

“In addition, they have translators at their work stations,” Mr Maina said.

The committee is also looking into complaints of poor working environment, discriminationary pay and benefits.

Mr Yatani told Senators that a multi-agency committee has been formed to address the issues raised and findings of a committee of inquiry that was appointed on July 12.

“The committee of inquiry which had seven days to report accomplished the task and filed a report presenting preliminary findings on issues in view of the fact that there was a constraint in time, long distance between stations and the many issues that were being handled,” Mr Yatani said.

He said the key finding of the inquiry is the labour force at the China Bridge and Road Corporation (CRBC) is predominantly the youthful age with extreme high expectation.

Mr Yatani said the committee established that workers are exposed to occupational and safety hazards and risks.

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