Union workers say Kenya Pipeline Company is understaffed

Kenya Pipeline Company

Kenya Pipeline Company petroleum storage facility in Industrial Area, Nairobi. 

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) union workers claim acute understaffing is affecting their performance, citing burnout due to long work hours.

The Kenya Petroleum Oil Workers Union (KPOWU) said the firm has a shortage of workers in some departments, forcing the staff to work overtime to cope with the workload.

In a letter addressed to the company’s board chairperson Rita Okuthe, KPOWU secretary-general George Okoth said the firm has also failed to pay workers their overtime dues.

“We seek to draw your attention to rising concerns relating to the impact of the current level of staffing in security, administration, and operations departments. Some staff have been known to be at their workstations for 96 consecutive hours, an unacceptable situation by all standards,” the letter reads.

“This is evidenced by an exponential increase in the amount of overtime claims incurred and a huge balance of unpaid overtime claims.”

The union claimed some workers have accumulated overtime claims of up to Sh2.5 million per year. It said the company is also short of drivers in its administration department occasioned by the end of contracts of some temporary and relief drivers. The union added that the shortage of staff, especially security personnel, has put some of the firm’s infrastructure in danger of theft and vandalism.

KPC Managing Director Macharia Irungu, however, denied the union’s claims. “We don’t have a shortage of staff at KPC” he said.

The company, which had an asset base of Sh123 billion in the year to June 2020, has 1,569 staff, according to its latest financial statements that cover the financial year 2019/20. This is down from the 1,628 staff it had in the financial year 2018/19. Its staff costs stood at Sh6.5 billion for the year.

KPOWU also said the shortage of staff is affecting the implementation of new projects by KPC, thereby delaying their completion.

“The company is understaffed, and obviously below the required manpower levels. It is important to note that many of KPC’s current projects are being immensely impacted by the shortage of employees in many aspects, therefore the quality of work is expected to be compromised,” said Mr Okoth.

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