The Star (Nairobi)

17 January 2014

Kenya: UoN Workers Demand Their Pay Arrears

CONSTRUCTION workers at the University of Nairobi's Kisumu Campus have gone on strike over unpaid dues. They have appealed to the Vice Prof Chancellor George Magoha to intervene in the adespute.

The 200 workers are demanding Sh900,000 unpaid dues. They accused Laton Construction Engineering Company for breaching the payment agreement that requires workers to be paid every week.

A worker said payments have been inconsistent as sometimes they are given quarter or half of what they expect in a week.

They said that the site engineer Steve Wambani has not communicated to them on when they will be paid their dues which has accumulated since December 20 last year.

Sources within the site revealed that there are about 500 skilled and unskilled workers working at the construction site of the 10-storey building.

They are grouped into various departments such as carpentry, masonry, steel fixer, plumber, electrical and general workers. They said that skilled and unskilled workers are supposed to be paid Sh600 and Sh300 per day on a weekly interval.

The workers also complained of poor working conditions saying they lacked protective gears which should be mandatory for them at the site.

They said the site engineer provide the helmets only when the University's inspections officers visit the site.

"When the contractors come during inspections, we are given the protective attire but all along we work under risky conditions," workers said.

The workers claimed that they don't have dust mask, overall, gumboots, safety belts and even first aid kits. They said they reported to work only to be informed that the site Engineer has instructed that no work should go on until he comes.

They suspect that the work could have been stopped to avoid accumulation of their pay, and a plot to victimize those who have been pushing for the pay.

Site Manager Roseline Njeri however declined to comment on the allegation saying she had no capacity to talk to the press.

"There is a procedure of handling the matter and for now I cannot comment as my boss has not given me the go ahead," Njeri said.

Steve Wambani, site engineer who was reported to have gone to attend the funeral could not be reached on phone to respond over the allegations.

The workers threatened to disrupt any construction work at the site if the site engineer failed to respond to their plight within 48 hours.

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