Hotel workers want share of Sh2bn Covid relief cash

KTB CEO Betty Addero Radier (centre) and marine conservationist Jane Silbury (right) looking out for humpback whales in the Indian Ocean at Watamu, Kilifi County on August 21, 2020.

Photo credit: Charles Lwanga | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Trade unions lamented that life had become unbearable for workers in the industry since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The funding was to be in the form of soft loans to be administered by the Tourism Finance Corporation.
  • The hospitality, travel and tourism sectors were among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

Hotel workers in western are demanding a share of the Sh2 billion tourism stimulus package the government offered the hospitality industry to cushion them from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Trade unions lamented that life had become unbearable for workers in the industry since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic.

Kenya Hotel and Allied Workers Union Nyanza chairman Daniel Okumu expressed concerns that the funds had not been remitted to hotels five months after the government pledge.

“We have questioned the Ministry of Labour concerning these funds, but we are getting nowhere. We will not be shocked if there another scandal is brewing around Sh2billion tourism stimulus funds,” he said.

Financial challenges

In May, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that Sh2 billion would be set aside to support the renovation of tourism facilities and the restructuring of business operations in the industry.

The funding was to be in the form of soft loans to be administered by the Tourism Finance Corporation.

The President said during Madaraka Day celebrations the money would cushion the sector and its workers from financial challenges occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the hospitality industry union officials, the Labour ministry conducted a headcount of hotel workers in May.

In the western region, there are about 500 hotels with an estimated 10,000 workers.

“We are demanding Cotu’s intervention to find out why the funds have not been channelled to hotels, let alone to our members. No hotel across the country has benefited from this funds,” said the Kenya Hotel and Allied Workers Union Nyanza chairman.

Pandemic

The hospitality, travel and tourism sectors were among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

Hotels were closed and airlines grounded after the State enforced the measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The resulting economic lockdown left the majority of hotel workers jobless as many others went on unpaid leave.

“Schools have just reopened. We have bills to pay. Many have gone with salaries for over six months,” said Mr Okumu.

Separately, hotels workers at the Vic Hotels will be on 10 per cent salary cut for the next three months.

Kenya Hotel and Allied Workers Union secretary Chadwick Oloto said the decision was reached in an agreement between the hotel directors and workers.

eojina@ke.nationmedia.com