Leaders, tea company disagree on plans to lay off workers

A meeting called to discuss James Finlay Tea Company’s plan to lay off some 700 employees by December 31 ended in disarray on Monday.

Leaders from Bomet County led by Senator Christopher Langat walked out of the meeting in Kericho town after the company refused to rescind its decision to send home the 719 workers.

Langat, who was accompanied by Konoin MP Brighton Yegon and Bomet County Assembly deputy speaker Wesley Kiprotich, had gone to persuade the company to shelve its plans.

Daniel Kirui, the firm’s human resource, director maintained the company would proceed with the redundancy programme.

“The redundancy is as a result of difficult business environment caused by low tea prices, low demand and increased external costs,” Kirui said.

He said the redundancy would be conducted in compliance with Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and labour laws, and terms and conditions of employment. He said the affected employees would be fully compensated.

But the leaders have vowed to ensure that the multinational tea company surrenders back the over 80,000 hectares leasehold land it holds.

Kiprotich said time had come for land acquired by foreigners during colonial era to revert to native owners.

Yegon said they had decided to make the demands after the United Kingdom-based company rejected pleas to reduce the number of workers to be made redundant or let them opt for voluntary early retirement.

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