Naivasha flower firms on spot over poor pay

Em­ploy­ees have also ac­cused the flower firms of craft­ing a way of es­cap­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity by is­su­ing one month con­tracts

The Star (Kenya) - - News | Business - GIDEON KETER @TheS­tarKenya

Em­ploy­ees of two flower firms in Nakuru County have pe­ti­tioned the se­nate over what they have de­scribed as poor re­mu­ner­a­tion, sex­ual ha­rass­ment and han­dling of harm­ful chem­i­cals.

In the pe­ti­tion pre­sented by nom­i­nated Sen­a­tor Martha Wan­gari, the pe­ti­tion­ers have ac­cused Home­grown Flamingo Hold­ings and Aquilla Flower Farm of de­plorable labour and so­cial wel­fare con­di­tions, mis­ap­pli­ca­tion of the oc­cu­pa­tional safety and health Act and re­lated labour laws .

“Sex­ual ha­rass­ment against fe­male em­ploy­ees is rife. This is es­pe­cially so when a fe­male em­ployee has spent few days or weeks away from work due to per­sonal or health prob­lems and wants to re-con­tinue with the con­tract,” reads the pe­ti­tion.

The pe­ti­tion­ers, who have asked the se­nate to con­ceal their names for fear of be­ing vic­tim­ized, say con­trary to a pol­icy where green­houses should re­main sealed for 30 days af­ter each chem­i­cal spray, the Naivasha based firms have been vi­o­lat­ing the pro­vi­sion.

“The em­ploy­ers have been forc­ing em­ploy­ees to en­ter such green­houses be­fore the 30 days are over to do prun­ing work, or spray­ing work. This hap­pens all the time and con­sti­tutes over 50 per cent of causal­i­ties in the flower sec­tor,” they said.

They have also ac­cused the firms of “craft­ing a way of es­cap­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity by is­su­ing one month con­tracts”.

They say through the one month con­tracts, the firms avoid award­ing em­ploy­ees ben­e­fits such as house al­lowance.

They say the firms only pro­vide gra­tu­ity to an em­ployee with a con­tract of more than five years .

“We pray to the se­nate to ur­gently in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ters raised and pre­pare a re­port on the labour and so­cial wel­fare con­cerns of the em­ploy­ees in the flower farms,” they told the se­nate.

Se­nate’s Labour and So­cial Wel­fare com­mit­tee chaired by Kil­ifi sen­a­tor Ste­wart Madzayo has 60 days to in­ves­ti­gate and ta­ble the re­port in the House.

Flower firms have for a long time been ac­cused of ne­glect­ing and abus­ing their work­ers as they seek to max­imise prof­its.

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