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CS Yattani reveals ill treatment of Kenyan workers at SGR

By Roselyne Obala | Published Fri, August 10th 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 10th 2018 at 00:18 GMT +3

Labour CS Ekur Yatani when he appeared before the Senate Labour Committee at County Hall, Nairobi on Thursday 09/08/18. [Photo: Boniface Okendo,Standard]

The Government has now admitted that Kenyans working with the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) are subjected to inhumane treatment.

The admission comes close to a month after The Standard carried an exclusive story detailing the deplorable conditions local staff work under as their Chinese counterparts are treated like ‘kings’.

Appearing before the Senate Labour committee chaired by Senator Johnstone Sakaja (Nairobi), Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani was pressed to paint a true picture of what was happening at the station against the backdrop of denials of any cruel acts by Chinese ambassador Sun Baohong.

Mr Yattani depicted a sorry state of affairs, revealing cases of discrimination, intimidation and outright segregation policies against Kenyans.

Work permits

He disclosed that work permits for migrant Chinese workers were not available for verification, except residency visas.

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With regards to employment contracts, it was not clear to local workers if their employer was Kenya Railways Corporation, Railway Training Institute or China Road and Bridge Corporation.

Yattani said SGR work stations were not registered as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, thereby exposing the workers to occupational safety and health hazards.

The committee was made aware of the matter following public outrage over claims of discrimination against Kenyans working with the SGR.

The CS appointed a committee on July 12 to investigate the claims.

The committee has since accomplished its task and filed a report with preliminary findings to the CS.

Yattani indicated that due to time constraints, the committee was unable to get to the bottom of the claims but promised to constitute another team to conduct a labour audit at the SGR.

Secrecy code

He complained that local workers were compelled to sign a secrecy code in which they undertake not to disclose any adverse information on the company.

Sakaja expressed concerns with the Government findings and demanded immediate intervention.

“Something should be done without further delay. There should not be different pay for the same work,” he said.

 


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