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Double tragedy as sacked Tuskys staff to be paid in February 2021

By Wainaina Wambu | September 24th 2020

Some of the sacked Tuskys employees demonstrate in Nairobi streets over their unpaid dues recently. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Some of the 1,000 workers sacked by the troubled Tuskys Supermarkets might have to wait until early next year to get their terminal dues.

This adds more pain to the workers, some of whom are owed salary arrears of up to five months.

Tuskys Human Resources General Manager Francis Kimani attributed the sackings to “ongoing business operations realignments,” with some employees told they’d receive their terminal dues between February and April next year.

“Please note you will be paid notice in lieu, any unutilised annual leave days and severance pay. Ensure that you return to the branch manager all company property that you have or for which you were responsible during the course of your employment and get a clearance letter from him/her,” read one of the termination letters seen by The Standard and signed by Kimani.

“Arrange to collect your terminal dues from the Human Resources Office on February 13, 2021.” 

The letter was copied to the Ministry of Labour and the Kenya Union of Commercial Food and Allied Workers (Kucfaw).

The union and Tuskys have been in a long-drawn court battle over the sackings even as the retailer continues to sink deeper into debt. 

Tuskys, which had a workforce of over 6,000 at one time, has also seen a wave of exits of top managers as its turnaround becomes increasingly uncertain.

Among those who have left in the recent past are supply chain managers, branch managers and a top security official over varying reasons ranging from delayed salaries and a bleak future of Kenya’s erstwhile second-largest supermarket chain.

Tuskys currently does not have a chief finance officer after the one who was serving in the capacity resigned last year.

The family-owned retailer is in the weakest financial position of all the country’s supermarkets, reeling from debt running into billions of shillings owed to suppliers, staff and landlords.

On Friday, the supermarket said it had received Sh500 million as part of the first tranche of a Sh2 billion credit facility it recently secured from an unnamed Mauritius fund.

Chief Executive Dan Githua said the money would partially pay landlords, staff and suppliers.

“In particular, the first tranche of the suppliers’ old debt amounting to Sh321 million has been settled. In addition, the August arrears for suppliers on the online custodial trading platform have also been settled today,” said Githua. 

Some of the retrenched workers have been holding street demos, demanding their salary arrears and terminal dues. The sacked employees joined Tuskys through Artemis and Amicum, an outsourcing company.

In an internal memo last week, Artemis said it would pay July and August salaries following the finalisation of the “capitalisation process of our clients”.

Tuskys, which has a store network of 60 across the region, has blamed the coronavirus pandemic for its woes.

It has closed three stores this year and at least five others have been temporarily shut by landlords over rent arrears.

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