Striking workers block Kilifi Senator from speaking to management over their grievances

Striking workers block Kilifi Senator from speaking to management over their grievances

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Coast Bottler's workers in Kikambala on Monday took to the streets in demand of better working terms. PHOTOS: DAVID NGUMBAO.

Kilifi, KENYA: More than 400 Coast Bottlers Ltd workers in Kikambala on Monday blocked Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo from meeting with the company’s management over their grievances.

The workers had downed their tools demanding better working terms and claimed that Madzayo was colluding with the employers to frustrate workers when he was an industrial judge.

They demonstrated from the factory to the main Mombasa-Malindi highway, where they paralyzed services at the Coca-Cola Company.

“We will not let you meet with the management because we know you very well ever since you were an industrial judge, you colluded with Umoja rubber to muzzle workers who were demanding their rights,” said Dominic Serem, a worker at the CBL.

“We do not want your assistance here and if you really want to help, go and help EPZ workers who are currently being mistreated by their employers,” Serem added.

Madzayo spent hours explaining himself but his efforts bore no fruits, as the workers could not hear anything from him and started chanting “Hatumtaki Madzayo”.

“I have worked as a judge in the high court for over 10 years. I practiced as an advocate for 15 years and served as the Agricultural society of Kenya (ASK) head for 9 years and all this time I have never been accused of corruption until now I am hearing it from you,” explained Madzayo.

Madzayo said that he was currently helping workers from Umoja rubber who were sacked long time ago get their money and that they should stop accusing him falsely.

He said he was only responding to their plight as a long serving judge.

“This area is near my home and because I am privy to all the labor laws in Kenya, I decided to come to talk to the striking staff and then meet the management,” said the Kilifi Senator.

Kenya Union of Commercial Food and Allied Workers Union Coast region secretary Wario Mainda, said the workers downed their tools to push two companies contracted by CBL to outsource workers sign a recognition agreement with the union.

“The two companies, Carrier directions Limited which has a majority of workers at the company and Asego warehouse company have been giving the employees poor remuneration,” Mainda said.

“We want CBL to tell us their plans with all these workers who have been working here as casuals for years. Already Asego warehouse has already terminated their contract with CBL and Carrier Directions has not yet agreed with the recognition agreement. We want Carrier to go and we are not taking anything less than that,” said Mainda.

Efforts to get comments from the three companies were futile as they were all held up in a crisis meeting at the time of going to press.