PRESS STATEMENT ON DEHUMANIZING WORKING CONDITIONS AT THE SGR.
10th July, 2017
RE: COTU (K) ABHORS THE DEHUMANIZING WORKING CONDITIONS
AT THE STANDARD GAUGE RAILWAY (SGR)
The Central Organisation of Trade Unions, COTU (K) abhors and strongly condemns the dehumanizing and life-threatening working conditions under which Kenyans are enduring in the hands of the Chinese Management at the Standard Gauge Railway, SGR as reported in an Investigative Story carried in a local daily.
Indeed the expose confirmed our greatest fears in a Company that has remained hostile to any member of a trade union to have access to any of its employees; the Company has over the years denied any access by any authorized Labour Office nor Labour Inspector to its premises as exploitation of Labour and worst forms of Labour practices are the norm at a Company that apparently enjoys selective protection.
Whereas Kenya’s National Constitution gives every Worker the right to join any association and to Collectively Bargain, SGR workers have never enjoyed this Constitutional right and intimidation, slavery and neo-colonialism remain rampant in a country that purports to enjoy over fifty years of Independence and with a Constitution that protects its Citizenry.
Apparently and painfully so, most of these individuals of Chines Origin cannot speak any of our local languages including English yet they have been cleared to do all manner of jobs manual and otherwise raising the question on how the department of immigration could award them work permits to work in Kenya.
It is despicable that a Kenyan working in his/her own Country could be forced to lie flat on the ground and receive all manner of punishment brutally; be humiliated and harassed, sexually assaulted and openly discriminated because of his/her skin colour and yet the very person doing so is a foreigner enjoying the protection of the very people he is brutalizing and living on their tax.
COTU (K) demands for the immediate deployment of Labour Officers and Labour Inspectors in all the SGR stations in the country as well as immediate access to these stations by trade unions for the purposes of recruiting these already willing but intimidated workers into the relevant trade union for purposes of Collective Bargaining and addressing their terms and conditions of work with the SGR management.
The impunity with which these individuals with Chinese Origin are operating in the Country must come to a stop as it is foremost the prime duty of the government to protect its citizens and COTU(K) is determined to stay put and free every Kenyan worker from these yokes of discrimination and neo-colonialism.
Francis Atwoli, NOM (DZA) EBS