The Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union, KPAWU as a Trade Union organisation representing workers in the Plantation Agriculture including the tea sector is concerned about the spirited efforts that have since been mounted by employers within the tea sector portraying the sector as having earned them poorly in revenue.(See DN Tuesday, March 22, 2016
These efforts exhibit a sinister motive from these employers who are simply preparing the ground to deny workers compensation in terms of wages and this has been their tricks that whenever they sense the union will be engaging them on issues of workers’ salaries and possible compensation in terms of workers’ loss of purchasing power, suddenly they came up with a chorus depicting their inability to compensate workers and all manner of losses in terms of earnings.
For instance, the Lipton brand of tea from Kenya is now the leading sold on the European market and you will find it on every table in Europe and KPAWU will not take lightly this “convenience” by employers in the sector to deny workers wage increase and even perpetuate to workers as if they are the only firms that have an access to global tea trade dynamics.
KPAWU through the Central Organisation of Trade Unions, COTU (K)’s Economics and Research department has information on the global tea markets’ performance and Kenya is doing much more than any other country that produces tea and is closely followed by Pakistan and Sirilanka.
Therefore,Kenya’s tea multinationals should either pack and go if they strongly feel they are not earning from their produce and proceed to surrender these huge parcels of land to the counties hence stop exploiting workers or stay put and pay their employees well.
As a union, KPAWU has persevered for too long when workers involved in the production of tea have faced all manner of injustices including the introduction of tea plucking machines which took away over 80,000 jobs and lowered the quality of tea both locally and internationally as our government watched.
KPAWU now appeals to the Kenya government and moreso to our county governments in which tea is grown to save jobs in these areas by banning tea plucking machines as this is the only way we can protect the existing jobs in these counties
Francis Atwoli,NOM(DZA), EBS,MBS