Sacked Tuskys staff stage city demo over pay

Ex-Tuskys employees protest outside a Nairobi city centre branch on September 18, 2020.

Photo credit: Hillary Kimuyu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Some accuse the retailer of issuing them with unsigned cheques that are unlikely to be honoured.

Ex-staff who were recently laid off by troubled retailer Tuskys held demonstrations on Friday in the Nairobi city centre to demand their dues.

More than 45 former employees who had been hired on contract accuse the retailer, currently Kenya's largest, of giving them the runaround for the last three months.

Stephen Owiti, who organised the demo, said some ex-employees had been given post dated cheques which they doubt will be honoured.

"Some of us have post dated cheques which we were told to cash at the end of the month, while others have cheques which have not been signed. How can you bank a cheque which is not signed?" he wondered. 

Minutes before they started the protest, Tuskys Human Resources manager - Mr Francis Kimani - called and tried to convince them not to hold the demo. 

He also promised to address their grievances next week. 

Majority of those who have been retrenched are non-unionised employees and say they have gone for months without pay.

The retailer’s chief executive Daniel Githua, in a letter to the Kenya Union of Commercial Food and Allied Workers (KUCFAW) dated August 24, acknowledged the delay in payment of July salaries, but insisted that half of the amount had been paid.

“The Tusker Mattress Ltd management regrets for the delay in payments for July 2020 salaries and wishes to clarify that it has no reason whatsoever of holding employees’ salaries,” said Mr. Githua

Tuskys started retrenching its workers as early as February this year. In a letter addressed to its employees early this year, the firm stated that it was restructuring and needed to lay off some of its staff due to a tough business environment.

In a notice dated February 19, 2020, the retailer announced that the company’s performance in the last two years has been on the decline.

“As such the company has embarked on a process of restructuring its operations to ensure financial viability. This has been orchestrated by a drop in sales and in customer numbers even as the Kenyan retail sector continues to experience growth with entry of big multinational players,” said Tuskys General Manager in charge of Human Resource, Francis Kimani in a letter to one of the affected employees.

The most affected staff were those attached in the facilities department who will be declared redundant in a month’s time, effective March 19, 2020.

Tuskys which had staff base of over 6,000 employees joined an increasing number of companies which, responding to policy changes and a tough business environment, have opted for this move to try and remain afloat.