Staff concerned over closure of flower farms

Workers sort flowers at a farm in Naivasha, Nakuru County. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The Kenya Floriculture, Horticulture and Allied Workers Union (KEFHAU) has expressed concern over the rising job losses in the sector.

The union blamed the rising cost of electricity and poor leadership for the closure of flower farms.

Among the flower farms that have either closed down or changed management include Naivasha-based Oserian Development Company Limited, Finlay Flowers Limited and Karuturi Flower Farm.

Other firms have been forced to outsource labour and put workers on new contracts due to the harsh economic times.

KEFHAU community organizer Meshack Khisa said the closure of flower farms and job losses was worrying when many families were struggling with the high cost of living.

Khisa said that the union was keen to work with the government to subsidize the high cost of electricity to retain more workers.

“Some of these challenges facing employers have been caused by poor leadership strategies that are not in conformity with the changing times in the employment sector,” he said.

He declared the union's support for the Kenya Kwanza government's affordable housing programme.

“We are calling on the government to designate a place in Naivasha and build affordable houses for workers who are the backbone of the country’s economic growth,” he said.

In a statement, the union announced a nationwide recruitment to provide competitive leadership for employees in the sector with the priority being retention of jobs.

“We are appealing to all employers within the floriculture and horticulture industry in Kenya to open their doors and allow workers to join the union as it is their right,” he said.

Khisa said the entrance of KEFHAU was good for workers as this discouraged monopoly, with the main objective being, improving service delivery and better industrial relations.

Speaking earlier, Kenya Flower Council CEO, Clement Tulezi, accused the government of double-speak and failing to address the challenges facing the sector.

He said the sector has employed more than 200,000 people and was one of the top foreign exchange earners in the country, but the government has failed to support it through tax subsidies.

“The government claims that it’s supporting farming to increase production but slapping the sector with unrealistic taxes leading to stagnation,” he said.

 

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