Workers refuse to send representative to resolve crisis

Effort to resolve conflict between workers of the Third Engineering Bureau of China City Construction Company came to a cropper on Monday evening after the over 500 worker refused to nominate persons to represent them at the round table.

The Rachuonyo South Sub County DCC, Ibrahim Hassan convened the meeting with the company officials after work boycott and agreed to sit together with the workers’ representatives to look at the issues raised but the workers refused to nominate any representatives saying they feared they could be victimized.

The company was ready to look into the issues the workers raised but the workers demanded that they sign a contract first and refused to have representation on the discussions, said the DCC.

He said they gave the workers up to Tuesday to make up their minds and come to the round table. The workers boycotted work Monday and began a strike that paralysed the company’s operations the whole day.

The road company workers engaged in the construction of Oyugis � Rodikopany road, Oyugis- Kendu Bay and along the Kisii Ahero high upgrade boycotted work and raised a litany of issues against the company among them working without formal contract signed.

The lack of formal contract between the workers and the company has led to abuse and irregular dismissal, said one of the workers who did not want to be identified.

The demos that started at Kasimba, the company’s camp site where offices are located progressed peacefully along the Oyugis -Rodikopany road to Kasimba junction where they were addressed by the leaders and dispersed.

The leaders of demonstration who however did not want to be identified because they feared falling victim vowed to continue with the strike until their demands were met.

The workers, carrying twigs, issued to the media a copy of what they termed their most serious grievances with the company among them the use of abusive language against the workers, physical assault such as slapping of the workers by the Chinese supervisors, working overtime without pay, and lack of safety equipment leading to injury at work without compensation.

In the document copied to the company and resident engineer, the workers also accused senior company officials among them the human resource officer of being heavy handed and a major source of the current problem affecting them and called for their transfer or removal.

The workers said today they have plans to engage the services of a lawyer and the workers’ unions- though they have no formal union- to ensure case is heard.

The workers insisted they want a formal contract so that they receive their pay slip every month and a p9 form showing the amount of tax they were being deducted.

This is the third time the company has found itself in conflict. The first conflict arose when residents had raised concerns on the encroachment on their lands, the safety of children attending schools along the roads during initial stages of the upgrade but the concerns were addressed after local administration held a stakeholders’ meeting and thrashed out the issues.

However, two months later, area residents demanded 100 per cent locals to work in the company leading to protracted conflict that almost turned ugly attracting the attention of the then Homa Bay County Commissioner, Kassim Farah and Governor Cyprian Awiti to intervene and resolve the conflict.

Source: Kenya News Agency