Sugarcane workers threaten to protest on Madaraka Day over arrears

Sugarcane workers have threatened to protest during the upcoming Madaraka Day celebrations in Bungoma County over unpaid arrears amounting to more than Sh3 billion.

The workers expressed their frustration and said they were bitter and dissatisfied with the way the government was handling the matter.

By the Kenya Union of Sugarcane Plantation and Allied Workers (KUSPAW) noted that they should receive their dues before the state-owned sugar companies are delisted as promised by the government.

Led by union general secretary Francis Wangara, they noted that the payment was originally supposed to be made by December last year, but they were surprised that farmers were the ones who were paid.

Wangara said workers were then told to wait for supplementary budgets that would address their arrears.

“We have been waiting and unfortunately we have managed to access the proposed supplementary budget and what they have factored in is the balance of 20 percent that they are supposed to pay to the farmers and nothing that they are supposed to pay to the workers,” he said .

He said that when the President was in Western last year, he promised that the government would pay three months’ arrears to the workers and that the rest should be paid along with other people.

The Secretary-General told the Star that three months of arrears have not yet been cleared.

Fortunately, he noted that the President will be in Bungoma to celebrate Madaraka Day and they do not know what he will say to the workers because they are waiting in turmoil for his comments on the matter.

“So as workers we are planning to demonstrate in Bungoma on June 1 when the President will be present and we want him to explain to us why this matter is being used in a discriminatory manner because the workers are not being paid but the farmers are being paid he said.

Wangara pointed out that the management that pays the farmers is the same that does not pay the workers, so this cannot be applied discriminatoryly as it is all debt of the company.

He emphasized that the leasing only takes effect once the employees are paid.

“We have a case in court and what we are going to do is just activate that case and then give them instructions not to proceed with the leasing process until we are paid.”

“There is no reason why they should continue to put workers’ concerns on the backburner as they only focus on farmers, they know the level of arrears, they have the workers’ records, we are bitter and dissatisfied with the “The way the government is handling this situation.”

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