Distressed workers at Sony Sugar Company Limited have vowed to down their tools on Monday if they are not paid their pending salaries by end of Sunday, March 31, 2019.
This is following a seven-day strike notice the workers issued last week on March 23.
Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers Deputy Secretary-General John Ogutu confirmed to a local media outlet that casual workers have not received salaries for the last two months while permanent workers are yet to receive their February salaries.
Ogutu said the impending strike is unstoppable.
He accused the management of failing to address grievances raised by workers.
However, on his part, Sony Sugar Company Managing Director Bernard Otieno said the planned strike is illegal.
He warned the workers that disciplinary action will be taken against any worker who will participate in the strike.
According to him, the delayed salaries are as a result of financial challenges facing the company.
He However, argued that delayed salaries does not warrant any industrial action from the workers saying the payments will be remitted next week.
The company was also on the spot last year, after farmers stormed the company managing director’s office to demand payment for cane delivered since December 2017.
The angry farmers said they have been unable to send their children to school after failing to secure money to pay school fees.
Last year, Kahawa Tungu reported that the company misappropriated Sh335 million loan from the Commodities Fund last year.
The company, got the cash from the Agricultural sector financier, but by the time of publishing the article, it had not done the intended Annual Planned Maintenance (APM) of the factory and its auxiliary facilities, and only Ksh607,007 was remaining as balance, while part of the money was diverted to fund other activities.
Although the company was expected to have commenced servicing the loan, it had not started paying, and has accrued interests. The bank guarantee was to expire in seven months.
The state corporation applied for funding on January, 26, 2016, to enable it undertake the APM of the factory and its auxiliary facilities, an application that was approved by the Ministry of Agriculture on September, 26, 2016.
A bank guarantee secured the loan, and disbursed the funds on three tranches, in the months of March, April and May, 2017.
This would be the first time the corporation would receive a loan since 2009. The company has been using internally generated funds.
The loan was meant to enable the company optimize the cane yard, improve steam generation and improve extraction and boiling facilities among others, an exercise that was slated to cost Ksh402 million but the company projected that it would raise Ksh67 million for the same.