Industrial feature By Leo Odera Omolo
It is indeed encouraging that the government of Kenya welcomes and encourage both foreign and local investors wiling to invest their money in the agro – based and manufacturing sectors, therefore the time is ripe for the government to set up certain conditions which must be met by the investors willing to invest their money in this country. The time is ripe for the government to set up certain conditions and terms conducive to employment regulations and rules before their investments kick off.
As for now, the multinational Tea companies operating in Kericho and Nandi Hills regions are the ones which have set up good examples by way of making sure that senior management positions are in the hands highly skilled and semi skilled in indigenous Kenya Africans.
The British multinational tea manufacturing companies, like the uniliver (formerly Brooke Band Tea) in Kericho, and the Finlays tea and Flowers in Kericho, and the Finlays tea and Flowers, also operating in Kericho and bomet counties have engaged the highly trained local personnel . The two terms even have promoted to high and middle management positions, some of them trained on-the-jobs.
The same could be said of Eastern Province tea company which own chains of tea plantations and processing factories in Nandi Hills, Kericho and Sotik Highland and Kibabet tea companies in Sotik region of Kericho county.
In most of the above multinational tea companies nearly all the top managers, engineers, doctors, Chief Accountants, Financial Directors positions, are held by indigenous Africans with the exception of the positions involving foreigners who are specilaized on highly technical work.
These British multinational tea Multinational companies had introduced a crush training program immediately after Kenya attained political independence in 1963. They embarked in phasing out foreign expatriate managers, technician artisans. The two expatriate who stayed on their jobs were compelled to train Africans to understudy the expatriate previously employed on lucrative and plum jobs and replaced Them with the local personnel.
What is happening in the tea industry is reflecting the true picture of job creation in a country like kenya where unemployment situation has reached as alarming proportion. It has at large become the source of rising crime waves. The government policy on job creation and employment regulation in Kenya not exceptional. This is something which is happening every where on the globe.
Certain conditions must be set up for the purpose of scrutinizing rogue investors who discriminate and enslave the locals in their establishment.
In this context, I am referring to the pathetic employment conditions in the sugar mills especially where he investors use local African workers like slaves, petty casuals without approximant letters and term and conditions of services etc.
I have in mind the five sugar companies owned by Indian investors.
To be specific and more clear ,the sugar companies owned by Indians include West Kenya and Butali sugar companies which are based in kakamega county ,while Sukari industries is located in Homa – Bay County , Kibos sugar and Allied industries based in Kisumu county and the latest is the Trans – mara sugar company based in Narok County Kibos Sugar and Allied Industries is situated in Kisumu County with the latest and the newest sugar mill being the Trans-Mara sugar Company in NAROK county
In all the five sugar mills the investors have embarked in engaging foreign expatriate workers with impunity. The Investors in the sugar mills have engaged the largest number of expatriates workers to the chagrins of locals. These expatriate workers, most of them imported from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, are semi-illiterate. Expatriate workers from India. Pakistan and Bangladesh are the ones who are running petty jobs such as time-keeper, junior clerks, cane yard clerks and top jobs from the top and down to messenger and … even cooks for making Indian dishes for the top Indian top managers
The whole set up looked like the modern day apartheid racial segregation in an independent Kenya .some of the positions held by the expartriates involved simple clerical jobs which the forum four school learners cam even perform better than semi-literate expatriates.
African workers are kept in the periphery. While working only as subordinate and manual workers, but with no letter of appointment. In the case of those local comparison to what their expatriate counterparts earns, some of the mills produced negligible tons of sugar per day but have employed close to 200 expatriates compare with the Mumias ugar company which turns the highest amounts of sugar per day, is the highest in the country, at 96000 tons per day . But the mill is managed exclusively and efficiently by the local African Manager from the top to the down trodden office messengers and sweepers
Since the terms of its former contracted management of Booker Agricultural international expired two decades ago and the expatriate left the have turned the company around from the the profit losses to a vibrant facility that is a profit making it rather shameful for Kenya, a country which has been independent for 50 years and has trained and truned out thousands of highly skilled personnel, to make the dumping for illiterate and oldest Indian workers who cannot be employed even in their own country .These undesirable Indian expatriate workers have flooded our sugar sub sector of the economy.
The majority of Indian expatriate workers were told they cannot be subjected to the mandatory safety deduction such as NSSF al NHIF as are allowed to export their package back home to their families .Why should the key a government allow the kind of modern day slavery where in citizens are being subjected to discrimination on few opportunities that are available.