Uchumi workers down tools over salary delays

Uchumi workers down tools over salary delays

Workers of Uchumi Supermarkets downed their tools on Tuesday in protest of delayed salaries which they claim stretch back to May.

Uchumi confirmed the salaries delay which date back to May but however says it came up with an alternative payment structure to ease the burden on its staff.

According to Uchumi management, workers were allowed to take an interest free advance from the company which would be deducted once the retailer was up to speed on its payments.

However the workers decried the arrangement with some claiming the arrangement does not work well for them given the current high cost of living as well as suspension of key benefits such as healthcare.

“Management promised to pay May salary by the end of last month but that didn’t happen. Now they have promised June salaries by the 10th (of July) but we are not sure that is going to happen,” claimed one worker from Eldoret.

Protest scenes were replicated in Karatina as well as at the Uchumi’s headquarters in Industrial Area.

Uchumi has approximately 1,300 employees and has blamed the salary delays on poor cash flows.

Uchumi has been struggling to get back to its feet over the last three years saddled by a mountain of debt as well as inability to secure capital from a strategic investor.

In December the National Treasury released Sh500 million to Uchumi to restock and boost cash flow but the amount has not been enough to turnaround its fortunes.

Workers have at the same time called for a change in management of Uchumi.

“(Dr Julius) Kipng’etich should go and a new CEO appointed who will listen to the workers,” another employee said.

Uchumi workers under the Kenya Union of Commercial, Food and Allied Workers have already written to the Ministry of Labour seeking mediation to resolve the salary standoff.

Story by Mumbi Warui & Cyrus Shollim

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