Keroche workers seek President's intervention in KRA tax dispute

A worker inspects beer production at Keroche Breweries in March 2022. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Over 400 workers at troubled Keroche Breweries Ltd in Naivasha have petitioned President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene over the ongoing tax row between the company and the Kenya Revenue Authority.

The workers, who could be jobless in a few days due to KRA’s closure of the factory, said they would be the biggest losers in the row with their families already going through untold suffering.

This came as it emerged that the workers had not received their salaries for four months due to the protracted dispute that has seen the brewery closed six times in the last one year.

Last week, KRA closed down the Naivasha-based brewery after the company defaulted on an earlier agreed plan to repay tax arrears amounting to Sh300 million.

The Authority went ahead to issue agency notices to several banks against lending the brewer, fully paralysing the operations of the company.

Addressing the press at the factory before holding a peaceful demonstration to the Labour offices in Naivasha, the workers said their only hope lay with the President.

The chairman of the workers’ welfare, John Odhiambo, told of their suffering as they waited for the dispute to be resolved. He said the issue was no longer a Keroche-KRA matter as over 400 people who depended on the company faced the sack.

“We are kindly pleading with the President and the Ministry of Labour to intervene as tens of families are undergoing untold suffering,” he said.

Mr Odhiambo said they were taxpayers who were ready to abide by the law, adding that KRA should sit down with the management of Keroche and resolve the impasse.

 He said that since the Covid-19 pandemic, the company had been closed on many occasions adversely affecting its production and revenue generation. “We can no longer feed our families following the row which doesn’t involve us and this has psychologically affected many workers,” he said.

Another worker, Rally Tago, said they had worked in the company for years and knew no other home, terming the current situation as the worst ever.

“We are drawn from different parts of the country and all that we are asking for is the reopening of the brewery as the pending issue is resolved amicably,” she said.

This was echoed by another worker, David Atete who said their children had dropped out of school while others were sleeping hungry.

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