15 Chemelil Sugar Company staff arrested over chaos

A loaded tractor arrives at Chemelil Sugar Company. Fifteen staff from the compay were arrested on January 25, 2021 during a violent confrontation with youths. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Fifteen Chemilil Sugar Company staff were on Tuesday arrested during a violent confrontation with a group of youths at the factory.

The workers had attempted to eject Managing Director Gabriel Nyangweso from reporting to office, sparking off the confrontation between the rival groups.

They demanded that Mr Nyangweso be sent on compulsory leave to pave way for investigations into alleged mismanagement of the state-run miller.

The protesting workers are reported to have shut down the mills, crippling normal operations at the factory before a group of youths confronted the workers.  

Several people were injured in the commotion.

 Confrontation

 Muhoroni Sub County Police Commander David Muniu said the confrontation between the youths and Chemelil Sugar staff left a trail of destruction at the factory.

 “The MD's office window panes are broken and the ceiling was damaged as the workers tried to escape arrest,” said Mr Muniu.

“The 15 suspects will be arraigned in court tomorrow (Wednesday) for creating disturbance and destroying government property,” said the police boss.

The management officials of the sugar firm have been embroiled in a standoff with workers who are demanding to be paid salary arrears amounting to Sh875 million.

The workers, who complained that they had not been paid salaries for the last 42 months, blamed the delay on alleged poor management of the miller.

Loan deductions

Other grievances raised by the workers include failure to buy the miller to remit statutory and loan deductions to banks and savings and credit societies as per existing memorandum of understanding between the company and the respective financial institutions.

The workers complained they had been listed with the credit reference bureaus for defaulting on their loans.

 Agriculture Administrative Secretary Ann Nyaga wrote to the union, asking the workers not to take part in protests.

She said there was a need to enhance communication between the management and the workers to resolve disputes at the factory.

 “All workers are expected to maintain discipline and commitment at their places of work at all times and desist from activities that can lead to any losses such as switching off machines,” she said.

Ms Nyaga said the government will not hesitate to take action against those found culpable.

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