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How A Graduate Engineer Found Himself Arranging Bottle-tops In Industrial Area For 13 Hours A Day

[PHOTO/ COURTESY]

The situation in the country is becoming dire everyday due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with thousands of Kenyans losing their jobs everyday.

Among those who have felt the pain is a graduate engineer who shared his experience on Twitter, on how he found himself at a company in Industrial Area arranging bottle-tops for over 13 hours every day.

In a tweet thread, the graduate using the Twitter handle @Wyregi say that he applied for a Mechanical Engineering job that was posted at the UoN Career Services centre.

The job was being offered by a company named Metal Crowns Ltd, and entailed operation of automatic machines.

“On 30th June that was the last day on my old job, I got a call from the company’s HR, a very nice and calm man, he invited me for an interview. I was lucky I mean I haven’t even spent time tarmacking. I was very excited,” says Wyregi.

He adds, “The following week, I went for the interview. They gave me an aptitude test, easy basic Engineering maths and some stuff about compressed air and how to read a vernier caliper… I did well and at the end they informed they will give me the job but I had to show them my previous job’s contract. This was a big red flag but I told them they have to match the terms of my previous contract and they said okay. They said they will call back after a few days so I went home.”

However, after a fortnight, the graduate was invited to sign some papers, but this time it was not Metal Crowns Ltd, but a consultancy firm called People Link.

“The company didn’t want to hire me directly so they used them (it’s easier to get rid of subcontracted workers) to hire me. First I had to fill a registration form and then before I had finished gave me a contract agreement to sign that I would give up my first full month salary. I asked why they showed me the service charge sheet which I felt it was robbery since they played no part in getting me the job,” he explains.

In the contract, he was required to work for 12 hours for day shift and 13 hours night shift. During shift changes (switching working from night to day), he would be required to work 18 hours.

“The second thing was the salary, they said I can’t get what we agreed with HR I have to settle with 30k and in this 30k they deduct lunch and supper they offer in the company( which is terrible tbh). For me money wasn’t the biggest of priorities so I didn’t complain too much,” he adds.

“Another thing was lateness, I was to join the night shift and I was supposed to report at 6pm. If anything happened and I was late for 30 minutes I have to go back home and no pay for that day”.

The graduate reported for his first day of work on August 5 for night shift. He received a five-minute training from a colleague, and was now ‘good to go’. The job was far from what he thought (operating automated machines), it entailed arranging bottle tops in boxes and sealing them for transport to their destination.

For 13-hour night shift, there was only a 10-minute break at a round 10pm to take supper, before resuming work for the rest of the night.

“That supper break was the only break, for the rest of the night you’re expected to work till your shift ends. By midnight, my legs and hands were shaking, my back couldn’t hold anymore but I had to keep going. The speed of the machine was crazy,” he says.

“So I started tracking how much working I was doing just to distract myself. One box of the metal crowns was 10,000 pieces and by midnight I had done 60 cartons. That’s 600, 000 crowns. The price of metal crowns i.e wholesale is 0.01$-0.04$ (Source: Alibaba),” he adds.

“By the end of the night I did 1.2m pieces which translates to almost 6 million Kenyan shillings. The guy next to me did 2.6million pieces which is roughly Ksh11m.”

Wyregi says that was his first and last day, and he slept for two days to recover from the fatigue. However, his colleagues were forced to remain despite the ‘slavery’ with very small pay.

Here’s the thread:-

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Written by Francis Muli

Senior reporter at Kahawa Tungu, Muli has a passion for human interest stories. Believes in unearthing societal rots that have been hidden from the public eye.
Follow me on Twitter @FmuliKE. Email francis@kahawatungu.com

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