15 January 2013

Kenya: Geothermal Strike Continues

The construction of the biggest geothermal plant in Africa has stalled after a strike by more 500 workers entered its fifth day. The move has paralysed the construction of one of the two power houses.

There are now fears that the strike could affect the project's completion date. The workers from Hadish Company, which is constructing the power houses for the 280Mw plant rejected a 10 per cent increase in their salaries, terming it as peanuts.

The workers went on strike last week demanding an increase of their wages from Sh337 to Sh500 per day. On Saturday the workers representative, the company management and labour officers held a meeting where the 10 per cent increase was agreed.

But on Monday, the workers rejected the offer as tension rose in the geothermal rich area with armed police being there. According to a worker who declined to be named, they would not resume work until the company made a better proposal.

"We want the company to increase our payment to Sh500 per day as we are doing the donkey work as the foreign workers loiter around," he said.

The worker said that they worked for long hours in inhumane condition but the company management did not recognize this. Last week, Kengen geothermal development manager Godfrey Muchemi said that construction works lay with various contractors.

He said on phone that he was aware of the strike and was hopeful that it would be resolved by the warring parties. "I have heard about the strike but Kengen is not involved in construction works which is being handled by various contractors," he said.

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