The Star (Nairobi)

8 October 2013

Kenya: Cotu Demands the Arrest of Naivasha Karuturi Officials

Central Organisation of Trade Unions has called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the management of a flower farm. The organisation has accused Karuturi flower farm in Naivasha of withholding pay from its workers for more than six months.

Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli issued the demand on Monday in a letter to Labour secretary Kazungu Kambi saying all efforts to dialogue with the company's management have been unsuccessful.

The letter, dated October 5, has been received by the cabinet secretary. Atwoli said more than 4,000 workers have not received their salaries. The workers living in the staff quarters had their electricity and water cut off due to non-payment of bills.

Access to health services at the firm's dispensary has been hampered by lack of water and medical supplies. "Despite this situation, the management is yet to show concern or institute any measures towards addressing the issue," he said.

Through its affiliate union the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) COTU has urged the minister to arrest Karuturi's management.

"The farm's management has failed to adhere to both local and international labour laws," Atwoli said in his statement adding that the farm's workers were now being subjected to indirect enslavement.

The Secretary General further revealed that the union has been forced to take the drastic move as earlier efforts by its officials and Naivasha MP John Kihagi to engage the farm's directors have been fruitless as they had often been met with false promises of payment.

"The minister for labour and his team are empowered by the Labour Act to arrest and prosecute such rogue employees. As a union, there is little we can do in this case as we do not control an employer's capital," he said. Under the act, directors of the farm are liable to a two year jail term for non-payment of wages.

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