Employees of Multi-National food processing company, Del Monte have downed their tools citing inhumane working conditions, unlawful labour employment policies, irregular dismissal of union representatives and poor pay.
The workers have for the second day in a row paralyzed operations at the facility while accusing the firm of backing labour malpractices by flouting the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed between them.
Led by Edwin Andala, the workers complained that compared to other multinational companies, Del Monte was paying them dismally. They said they could no longer meet their basic needs such as paying rent or buying food.
The workers further accused some of the senior staff in the company of violating workers’ rights. They said some of the senior staff were known for demanding bribes and favours in exchange for employment and job security.
A section of the employees pointed out that they had worked at the firm for more than 20 years but had never been promoted from casual to permanent employees, putting them at a disadvantage of retirement with zero benefits.
They added the company had outsourced employment systems leading to job insecurity, biased employment processes and delayed promotions.
The workers were addressed by officials from the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) who supported their call for a better working environment and an end to the irregular dismissal of union respresentatives.
Del Monte’s managing director Stergios Gkaliamoutsas addressed the issue, terming the strike as illegal. He said the strike had been conducted without notice and refuted claims that the company had subcontracted a project without communicating to the workers.
He said the management had held a meeting with KPAWU and clarified that the contract in question would not result in job losses for any union member employees due to the outsourcing. The project is set to commence on January 10.
“The 2022 labour requirements have increased compared to 2021 and as such we were forced to temporarily outsource for additional manpower through the contract, to cover the additional work.” Gkaliamoutsas said in a statement
“As per the current state of affairs, we forecast that all current permanent and additional contract workers will be fully occupied throughout the year.”
Del Monte was in the news last year over claims of torture and abuse on residents and workers.