The umbrella workers’ union yesterday accused a local cement manufacturing firm of arbitrarily dismissing 115 workers. Cotu secretary general, Francis Atwoli, accused the management of the Athi River-based East African Portland Cement Company of allegedly turning almost all its staff into casual workers, "fundamentally negating the principal of a Kenyan-owned firm, which should be creating jobs for its people."
Mr Atwoli added: "Besides, it is absurd that the managing director, Mr Zakayo ole Mapelu, has even gone further to hire the services of a South African firm, the Hay Group, allegedly to undertake staff appraisal and job evaluation at the firm, through which he intends to declare over 200 employees redundant." He called on the Government to investigate the manner in which the foreign firm was sourced, appointed and commissioned to carry out the job.
The union leader further termed as "saddening" the laying-off of staff who had worked for the company for between five and 20 years, despite promises during a staff party last year that those who had worked for the company for long would secure permanent employment.
The Government, he said, should also investigate the recent hiring and hiking of salaries for top managers under the guise of addressing efficiency at the firm. "Otherwise should these ruthless labour practices remain then, through our affiliate Kenya Chemical and Allied Workers Union, we will proceed to eventually explore our laid down industrial relations machinery to ensure sanity prevails at the company," he warned. But the company’s corporate affairs manager, David Maingi, said the move to get rid of casuals was final, as they wanted to remain with the desired number of permanent employees.