NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 4 – Tea production could decline following an imminent strike by workers over Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs).
Central Organization of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli issued a seven-day strike notice against multinational tea growers in Kericho and Nandi if they fail to implement pending CBAs.
Atwoli warned tea growers against further delays in negotiating the disputed 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 CBAs.
The workers had demanded 30 per cent wage increment in the 2014/15 CBA and a 100 per cent increment in the other agreement.
He accused the employers of using courts to frustrate labour relation processes adding that the multinationals implemented a 15 per cent of the 2014/2015 CBA as awarded by court before filing an application in the Appeals Court seeking to have the remaining 15 per cent reviewed.
The multinational tea growers include Unilever Tea Kenya Limited, James Finlay Kenya Ltd, the Kenya Tea Growers Association and Eastern Produce Kenya Ltd.
“The union has carried an extensive research on the performance of the tea sector including the market profits and we have credible information that the tea growers were making huge profits but they were reluctant to increase the wages of their workers,” said Atwoli.
He added that the union and its members had been patient for the past four years as indicated by the two pending CBAs and protracted court battles.
Atwoli who was accompanied by KPAWU officials at the union’s headquarters in Nakuru noted that the terms and conditions of services have remained constant for the past four years, despite the high cost of living and rising inflation.
“We are warning the multinational tea companies that do not comply with the CBAs against rushing to court to block the implementations of the agreement. We will have to use the governors to have their licenses cancelled if they continue frustrating our people,” he warned.
In mid-August, Atwoli called off a strike planned by unions to push for the implementation of the CBAs following intervention of the Employment and Labour Relations Court.