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Mombasa leaders oppose Kenya Ports Authority’s plan to lay off 4,000 staff

COAST
By Patrick Beja | October 14th 2015
A section of the Kenya Ports Authority workers during a past strike

KENYA: A section of Mombasa leaders have opposed a proposal by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to lay off about 4,000 workers in a bid to reduce its Sh10.7 billion annual wage bill and foster efficiency.

The Standard published a story showing that the KPA board of directors was seeking permission to lay off workers through a voluntary retirement scheme.

Two Coast MPs and the Dock Workers Union (DWU) yesterday said it was unacceptable to sack such a huge number of employees.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and Nyali legislator Awiti Bollo yesterday said it would be shocking if the State corporation renders 4,000 workers jobless.

Mr Bollo wondered why the Government wanted to introduce the voluntary early retirement programme at a time when the port of Mombasa was undergoing expansion.

He suggested that the Government instead transfers the excess workforce at the existing port to the second container terminal due to be completed in March next year.

"I am totally opposed to the proposed sacking of the current workforce as it is going to increase the number of criminals in the town. I suggest that the excess workforce be transferred to the expanded parts of the port," he said.

He said the Jubilee administration had promised to create jobs during the 2013 campaigns and should not act against its manifesto.

"I urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to go for other options and avoid laying off such a big number of workers and then employ new ones for the new container terminal," Bollo, also a businessman, said.

DWU General Secretary Simon Sang said they were opposed to the current plan by KPA, terming it part of the port privatisation plan.

According to him, the union had written to the then KPA chairman Danson Mungatana proposing a rationalisation programme that would have seen 1,200 new workers in the low cadre employed and 900 others in the management removed.

"This would have increased the workforce by 300 workers but reduced the total wage bill by Sh1.3 billion per year," Sang said.

He noted that the low-cadre workforce was being subjected to double shifts due to an acute shortage while the management was bloated.

He noted that drivers and those working at the dock were being overworked and hence the need to increase their numbers.

"Mr Mungatana wrote to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure immediately he received our proposal but there was no response," Sang said.

He said the union had not seen the current document from the KPA board proposing the sacking of 4,000 workers.

"We are going to study the document and respond comprehensively to it," Sang said.

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