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Job cuts loom in KTDA as staff audit firm steps in

WORK LIFE
By Boniface Gikandi | November 2nd 2021
By Boniface Gikandi | November 2nd 2021
WORK LIFE
A farmer picks tea at Githarara Village in Tetu, Nyeri County, on April 13. Tea farmers started to receive their annual bonus on Friday, which totals Sh21 billion. [File, Standard]

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has sourced a human resource firm to undertake a month-long staff audit, signalling impending layoffs at the firm.

KTDA Chief Executive Officer Wilson Muthaura, in an inter-office communication dated October 27, announced the appointment of Cliff Anderson Limited to undertake the 30-day audit.

“All heads of departments are requested to accord them support and are required to provide the information requested by the consultants to enable them to conclude the exercise within the stipulated period,” Muthaura wrote to the KTDA MS heads of departments in the memo copied to acting group finance director and acting head of the subsidiary.

The consultant will help the KTDA MS shape its next direction after government-supported reforms indicated it as among the agency’s subsidiaries that needed an overhaul.

This also comes at a time when the commission the company used to charge tea factories has been reduced from 2.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent under the tea sector reforms.

KTDA MS offers management services to over 70 smallholder factories, seconding a factory unit manager and production assistants, a factory accountant and field service coordinators to the units.

It also has several regional management offices to supervise its workers at a cluster of factories.

A price stabilisation committee appointed by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya earlier in the year indicated the subsidiary as among those failing the over 600,000 tea farmers.

The committee accused the management services wing of enjoying skewed management agreements that do not hold them accountable and allowing the introduction of new products such as orthodox, purple and Chencha tea without a clear market plan.

During the KTDA AGM held in Mombasa, the directors who were taken through a snapshot of the committee presentations were tipped that some of the subsidiary’s employees could be offloaded to cut costs.

Agency’s Head of Corporate Communications Ndiga Kithae said rationalisation is normal in business, which needs to establish whether one has the right and required workforce.

“Based on your findings, you can add or reduce the number of employees,” said Mr Kithae.

Gatunguru Tea Factory Chairman Mwangi Kaguma said some of the salaries paid to the employees were not sustainable and urgently needed to be reviewed.

Mr Kaguma said the directors are working towards giving the best to the farmers, following the government’s promise to pay them better prices for their high valued crop.

In July, KTDA Chairman David Ichoho said the directors elected by farmers will undertake restructuring of the sector to match with the growers’ expectations.

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