By ALLY JAMAH
Thousands of plantation workers have threatened to go on strike if their employers in the tea, coffee and horticulture industries deduct the new National Hospital Insurance Fund’s rates from their salaries at the end of this month.
The Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers said Sunday that they were not party to the decision by NHIF management to increase their monthly contributions for healthcare and would therefore not accept any new deductions.
"We send a strong message to our employers in this vital sector that any move to deduct our members the new NHIF rates will attract dire consequences from us including withholding our labour," said KPAW’s union’s Acting Secretary General Thomas Kipkemboi.
Under the new rates, workers earning a monthly salary of below Sh6,000 will pay Sh150, while those earning above Sh50,000 will part with Sh1,000. For those pocketing Sh100,000 and above, NHIF will deduct Sh2,000. Previously, all workers paid of a flat rate of Sh320 per month.
The union said it will continue opposing the new deductions until NHIF consults them. It termed the move as a "painful slap in the face of workers" at a time when the cost of living was sky high. They insisted that NHIF’s decision was unilateral and was done without any consultations
"KPAWU has informed its members not to accept the new deductions and we will do everything to protect our hard-earned cash from the fingers of NHIF," said Kipkemboi.
Last Friday, the Kenya Union of Printing, Publishing, Paper Manufacturers and Allied Workers also issued a strike threat if the new proposed rates are implemented.