Tea farmers oppose 30% workers’ pay rise

Tea farmers oppose 30% workers’ pay rise

Tea farmers in Nandi County have vowed not to implement a 30 percent salary increment awarded to farmers by the employment and labor relation court last week.

The over 11,000 farmers have even threatened to uproot their tea bushes, arguing the hike in salaries would drive up operating costs.

The court last week directed that workers allied to the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) and the Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA) get the pay rise as part of a collective bargaining agreement.

Farmers argue that of the Sh20 per kilo they receive from selling tea, close to Sh15 goes towards paying workers.

The move has not gone down well with workers who held a demonstration as they denounced a move by the KTGA Chief Executive officer; Apollo Kiarii, that tea companies should pay them an increment of five percent due to high cost of production.

In a circular memo presented to workers of KTGA and its member estates, the association reviewed the full impact of the judgment and its effect to the sustainability of the business and as a result made to the court an application to stay the implementation of the order.

Tea pickers led by KPAWU deputy general secretary; Thomas Kipkemboi and Nandi branch Secretary; Eliakim Ochieng said that they will not accept anything less than what the court awarded them.

The workers have threatened not to go back to work until their demands are met.

Report by Daniel Korir