Nandi county assembly want their local government to impose a ban on the use of Tea plucking machines in the multi-national Tea companies that has witnessed over 20,000 workers being declared redundant in the last three years.
The assembly committee on Labour and social welfare chairman Thomas Maritim of Terik ward in a motion meant to outlaw the use of machines, said two multi-national companies operating in Nandi had carried out massive importation of the equipment from Far East and were being assembled ready for use.
As a result, Maritim explained that the remaining 10,000 Tea pluckers were at risk of loosing their jobs hence endangering the social-Economy of the county and unless the ban adopted the county was in danger.
Supporting the motion brought before the assembly, Kiptindinyo Ruto-Kapsimotwo ward said while they were not opposed to technology, plucking machines had far reaching health implications in the reproductive organs of the users and appealed to the ministry of labour to ensure those who have adversely been affected are compensated.
Mark George-(Kilibwoni) said the county had a reason to worry saying several villages and primary schools within the Tea estates have been closed down and that the companies were now preparing to demolish the building to pave way for the growing of Tea.
"This is a threat to the economy of Nandi County if we allow these companies to continue with this, we are in serious trouble because the economy of the rural people will die instantly," Ruto told the assembly.
The named Eastern Produce Kenya Ltd. Company as the firm that has imported over 1,000 units of the machines being now assembled at Kibabet Tea estate where 1,200 workers were dismissed leaving the residential villages within the plantations deserted while the local primary school has less than 100 pupils, the assembly was told.
Another company, George Williamson Tea estates of Tinderet, Kaimosi and Kapchorua, the assembly was informed had reduced its workforce by 60 percent and replaced by the machines.
"Those who are employed to pluck Tea using the machines are paid sh. 2/= for every Kg of green leaf harvested and are all on temporary capacity enjoying no health insurance cover, job security and are not subjected to social security benefit," Maritim said.
Those operating the machine have high risk of facing serious reproductive malfunctioning due to vibrations of the bodies while using the technology.
Besides, the quality of made Tea are seriously compromised explaining that those plucked manually are of high quality. The assembly adopted the motion and appointed a 12 man committee for a fact finding mission in the estates saying they had a right to protect the jobs of the innocent.
Following the ban, the branch secretary of the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural workers Union Nandi, Eliakim Ochieng welcomed the move saying mass sackings have contributed to insecurity in Nandi-Hills and the surrounding areas.