Another 1,100 workers to lose jobs by Christmas Day

Stephen Scott, the Finlays Flowers General Manager in a signed letter dated October 19 stated that the company’s directors had decided to shut down flower farming operations on Chemirei and Tarakwet, a year earlier than it had communicated to the workers.

The company had on April 26, 2018 announced that it would draw the curtains on the two farms in December 2020.

“The flower industry has been facing severe challenges in the last 18 months. Due to an oversupply in the European Market and decreasing demand, the prices have remained very low,” said Mr Scott.

The company has been exporting bulk flowers especially red roses to United Kingdom based supermarkets.

SEE ALSO :Finlays' exit to hit county economy hard

The Finlays Flowers general manager added that coupled with other challenges including the weakening of exchange rate, extreme weather conditions and high labour costs, the directors of James Finlays (Kenya) Limited had decide to close business in the two farms totaling 70 acres of land.

“The final closure date will now be on December 25, after which operations on Chemirei and Tarakwet will stop,” said Mr Scott.

He added that all the employees will be made redundant in accordance with labour laws, existing Collective Bargain Agreements to their specific terms of service and will be paid their dues in full.

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“Junior and senior management who are leaving the business will be communicated to on one to one basis,” said Mr Scott.

The employees seconded to Murara plants limited will not be affected though.

“Finlays management regrets the closure of Chemirei and Tarakwet farm but change is a necessity in any long-term successful business,” said Mr Scott.

In his 2018 letter, the Finlays General Manager had laid blame on the labour costs in Kericho which he argued are significantly higher than other locations in the flower industry in Kenya.

“This has caused the Kericho investment to become uneconomic and non-competitive,” he said.

He added that the industrial action against the company in the last two years also contributed additional pressure on the viability of the business.

Finlays started growing flowers in Kericho in 1989.

At the height of the business, the company employed nearly 3,000 people on 115 hectares which were under flowers.

But even as the company drove the last nail on Chemirei and Tarakwet flower farms, Finlays intends to maintain its operations on Lemotit Farm in Londiani in Kipkelion East constituency.

The closure of Tarakwet and Chemirei flower farms comes at a time when the Senate committee has opened an investigation into the reasons behind the recent wave of job losses.

This follows a petition filed by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala that detailed how at least nine companies had recently laid off 14,000 employees.

In an earlier interview, Belgut Member of Parliament (MP) Nelson Koech in whose constituency Tarakwet and Chemirei farms are located had slammed Finlays decision to close business.

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