Workers harvest tea in Kenya. Photo: GettyImages.com

Kenya is experiencing a tense transition as homeowners of colonial-era tea plantations abandon tightly held vertical provide chains in favor of cheaper and extra agile choices for sourcing and processing tea.

Unilever’s Kericho tea operations, which date to 1924, embrace 20 estates spanning 21,500 acres (8,700 hectares) and eight factories that produce 32 million kilos of tea yearly. Unilever has a payroll of 12,000 everlasting employees and 4,000-5,000 seasonal employees.

Since March the corporate has provided what it calls a “strictly voluntary” separation program to non-management staff, a lot of whom have utilized.

Kenya Kericho Harvest

Last week labor leaders signaled their robust objections in press accounts that predicted 11,000 layoffs of Unilever’s 16,000 staff. Union leaders allege this system targets unionized staff. Unilever says this system is routine, designed to refresh the workforce and insists that there aren’t any targets.

“The tea workers’ union, however, reacted sharply to the retrenchment plan and accused the company of breaching labor laws,” in line with Business Daily Africa.

The union filed a grievance with the Employment and Labour Relations Court which issued an injunction final week halting this system till an Aug. 14 listening to.

Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union assistant secretary-general Meshack Khisa mentioned Unilever’s resolution to ship employees house quantities to involvement in “unfair labor practices” and “corporate greed.”

“(The union) strongly condemns Unilever Tea Kenya for engaging in corporate greed and jeopardizing over 11,000 unionized workers’ jobs through a separation exercise that only targets unionized employees,” he mentioned in an announcement.

The subsequent day Unilever East Africa Corporate Affairs Director, Joseph Sunday, advised the Daily Nation the early retirement program is a part of routine enterprise train utilized by firms throughout Kenya and is not any method linked to an enormous layoff.

“This has been aimed at ensuring we have an organization that is agile, fit to compete and efficient in our quest to respond to rapidly changing business needs,” Unilever Tea human sources supervisor Mary Wanyonyi mentioned in a memo to staff.

“It is in this regard that Unilever Tea Kenya is offering voluntary separation to non-management employees to be conducted strictly on voluntary basis,” in line with the memo.

The tea grower mentioned affected staff will likely be eligible for severance pay of 23 days for every accomplished 12 months of service, discover pay in accordance with phrases of service, any excellent go away days and one-way bus fare house as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Union chief Khisa mentioned the layoffs weren’t mandatory as there isn’t a financial disaster on the firm. “The business is up and running, supply of tea leaves as a raw material is in plenty and the market has not shrunk. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for voluntary cessation of employment,” he said.

Source: Unilever, The Nation, Business Daily Africa

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