Persistent Industrial Unrest By Workers In The Tea Plantations

Unionisable employees under our affiliate trade union, the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union, KPAWU and working in a section of tea plantation firms in both Nandi and Kericho counties are now on strike following the failure by the Management of both the Unilever Kenya Limited and the East African Produce in Nandi Hills to engage into negotiations with the union on the terms and conditions of worker for these employees.

The Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union, KPAWU enjoys a valid Recognition Agreement with both companies and their management should stop running to the Employment and Labour Relations Court to obtain orders whenever a dispute arises between them and workers as this only works in derailing the rather harmonious Industrial relations that the two parties have enjoyed over the years.

It is important that both unilever Kenya Ltd and the East African Produce management meet with the union officials and negotiate as well as enter into a return-to-work formula as presented by the Union since KPAWU’s Recognition Agreement with the employers in the sector that outlines the rules and procedures of engagement for the parties.

Equally, KPAWU has a valid Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the companies which has expired and whereas both parties should engage and come out with a new CBA, the employers are dragging the process of realizing the two CBAs, despite the fact that as the General Secretary of KPAWU.I personally presented the proposals for the new CBA’s together with a researched economic performance of the two companies clearly showing the employers performed very well in the last two years under review justifying the need to sit down with the union and conclude the CBA.

Further, in informing how rigid and uninterested the Management is in the matter, l have on several occasions tried to get in touch with the employer from China, Beijing where l am currently on official assignment particularly the Director at Unilever Mr. Julius Tare who has refused to respond to my calls and l am appealing to the top management of Unilever to immediately relieve Mr. Tare from leading the negotiations since he lacks any respect towards the trade union.

At the same time the management of unilever should stop forthwith its threats towards the union particularly when it went on to refuse my Deputy General Secretary Thomas Kipkemboi from addressing workers in the affected areas of Kericho.

Francis Atwoli, EBS, MBS


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