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Court awards tea workers 30pc salary increase

By Luke Anami | June 21st 2016
Jane Wambui plucks her tea leaves at Wamagana Village in Tetu, Nyeri County. The Industrial Court awarded unionisable tea workers 30 per cent salary increment. (PHOTO: KIBATA KIHU/ STANDARD)

Unionisable tea workers will be laughing all the way to the bank after the Industrial Court awarded them a 30 per cent salary increment.

The lowest tea plucker will now take home Sh13,052, up from Sh10,052.

The highest paid worker at the clerical level will now earn Sh40,634, up from Sh31, 257.

The amount will be backdated to January 2014, the date the parties began negotiations for the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The Industrial Court further ruled the workers be retired at 60 years with an option of voluntary retirement at 55 years of age.

This follows the settlement of a CBA dispute of 2014 between Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) and the Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA).

In a ruling delivered by judge Monica Mbaru yesterday, the workers will also see their gratuity pay, medical and leave allowances increase.

"The Employment Act (Sections 31, 32, 33 and 34) requires that an employer provides an employee with housing, water, food and medical attention," Justice Mbaru said.

"Such should not affect the rate of pay while negotiating a new CBA," he added.

She went on: "The demand by the union at 25 per cent for 2014 and 25 per cent for 2015 is countered with an offer of two per cent (2014) and two per cent for 2015 by the KTGA, and noting the above and the CPI (Consumer Price Index) rate applicable for the subject period, an award of 15 per cent (2014) and 15 per cent for 2015 period is appropriate."

This effectively meant that tea workers who began negotiations for CBA way back in 2014 will now be able to earn a salary increment calculated at 30 per cent following the resolution of their CBA dispute in the Industrial court.

The amounts will be backdated after KTGA failed to prove in court that he could not pay the increment as negotiated in 2014.

"I also find, in CBA negotiations, it is upon the employer to demonstrate the trend (s) from the most current financial statements for the past three to five years so as to establish the element for inability to afford and sustain any additional wage bill," Mbaru said.

The award follows failure to conclude a CBA on nine items, which included rates of pay, gratuity, annual leave, leave traveling allowance, retirement age, medical days of work and baggage allowance.

"On hours of work, there shall be one day rest with pay in every working week. Medical treatment and sick allowance awarded at Sh30,000. Annual leave travelling allowance awarded at 6 per cent."

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