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Plea for talks to end tea workers strike

Multinational tea firms in Kericho and Bomet counties, a legislator and some tea farmers have called for dialogue to resolve the workers’ strike impasse.

As the strike enters its second week, Konoin MP Brighton Yegon and farmers led by William Kettienya urged the tea companies managements and Kenya Plantations and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) to return to the negotiation table to address the issues raised by the workers. Losing produce They said the stand-off is hurting the sector which many depend on to earn their livelihoods.

The group urged Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) secretary general Francis Atwoli, who is also KPAWU boss, to hold talks with the management of the tea companies immediately to ensure normalcy returns to the sector.

“The strike is not only hurting the multinational tea companies but has extended to the small-scale farmers whose produce is going to waste because manufacturing operations have been halted,” said Kettienya.

He said farmers who deliver their produce at the tea firms for processing have been losing more than 700,000 kilogrammes every day, therefore, the need for an immediate solution to the stand-off.

The employees at the tea firms downed tools more than a week ago demanding full implementation of their 2014/15 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which was to grant them a 30 per cent pay hike.

Atwoli has told managements of the tea companies, who are members of the Kenya Tea Growers’ Association (KTGA), to honour the CBA in full so that workers can resume duty. He has repeatedly said the strike is protected and they will not relent until their grievances are addressed.

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