State warns Chemelil Sugar staff against sabotage

Sugarcane at Chemelil Sugar Factory in Kisumu County on January 14, 2020.

Sugarcane at Chemelil Sugar Factory in Kisumu County on January 14, 2020.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

The government has cautioned Chemelil Sugar Company workers against taking part in any acts that could sabotage operations of the miller.

 Agriculture Administrative Secretary Ann Nyaga who stepped in to resolve the dispute between the management and workers, however, said there was need to enhance communication to avoid misinformation and conflict between the two parties.

 “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.

“We need to ensure that Chemelil Sugar Company operates continuously and generates the much desired revenue,” noted the CAS.

The intervention of the CAS, acting Sugar Directorate head Willis Audi and two directors from Agriculture and Food Authority came as workers demanded for the removal of acting Managing Director Gabriel Nyangweso and Finance Manager Emmanuel Ngala whom they accused of mismanaging the company.

 Through the Kenya Union of Sugarcane Plantation and Allied Workers (Kuspaw), they faulted the management for failing to reinstate full salary payments despite registering an improved performance.

“This has seen an accumulation of 42 months’ salary arrears owed to employees by the company amounting to Sh875 million,” said the union’s general secretary Francis Wangara.

 But the CAS stated that the ministry will appoint a board of directors to oversee management of the company and pay the staff one-month’s salary arrears by mid next month.

On resumption of payment of full salaries to workers, Ms Nyaga called on the management to develop a plan and communicate to the staff by July this year.

The ministry has further indicated that the government will dispatch a factory maintenance fund to promote efficiency of the company.Other measures that the ministry promised to tackle to create a conducive working environment include putting in place plans to pay retirees, improvement of staff social welfare and renewal of contracts for employees whose contracts expired in December last year.

According to Kuspaw's petition to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, the workers raised concerns that failure to remit statutory and loan deductions to banks and saccos has caused them to be registered with the Credit Reference Bureau.

Award of tenders

Among others, they pointed out that the management has been involved in irregular award of tenders through proxies while the marketing department was blamed for effecting differentiated sugar pricing.

“While the present price is Sh5,200, some customers are paying Sh4,400 for 50kg bag of sugar and looting huge sums of money from the company,” said Chemelil branch secretary Mr Jack Osida.

 Support

The workers last week clashed with farmers and transporters who expressed support for Mr Nyangweso’s administration.

Mr Tom Okal accused the workers of creating instability at the troubled company by putting endless demands and sabotaging the management of the company.

“As providers of the critical raw materials, we will not allow an individual to make decisions that have dire consequences on our harvests,” said Mr Tom Okal.

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