The owners of the SGR ticketing scam want money and that’s why despite the daily shouting by Mutahi Kagwe of Ministry of Health that we should follow precautions in order to defeat COVID-19, crammed up trains are let to operate at night while better social-distanced buses are not.
In June 2020, staff at SGR which is being managed by Africa Star Railway Operation Company Limited (Afristar) acused the management of mistreatment.
They told cnyakundi.com that their contracts are being reviewed so that their salaries can be halved.
“How are you sir, hope you safe? There is something I want you to expose sir, we are being forced by our employer, Africa Star (Afristar), Chinese company operating the SGR, to sign a new contract while we still have an existing one which is supposed to end in 15/9/2020. The issue is they have reduced some of the allowances like house allowance from 10k to 5k, others to even 3k, the transport allowance from 5k to 3k others to even 2k”, he wrote in June 2020.
This was at a time when most people were having their salaries slashed, some being told to stay at home or getting fired. The only bone of contention is that Afristar’s policy didn’t apply to all staff. Privileged employees from China were untouched by the new directive.
“Since 20th march 2020,we have been out of work while all the Chinese and some few Kenyans were left to operate the freight train. When we questioned the management why they forced us in annual leave and there after failed to call us back, the answer we got was, “IF YOU RESUME WORK, YOU WILL INFECT THE CHINESE WITH CORONA VIRUS, SO STAY AT HOME”, he continued.
There is a lot of racism which has even spread to watchmen who belong to Deeway security company which is owned by the Chinese such that they prohibit workers from passing through a gate which they allow only Chinese employees. If one attempts to pass there they are told, “ngozi nyeusi hairuhusiwi hapa”
There was also the angle where Kenyan staff were told to stay away from work because ‘they risked infecting their Chinese colleagues’. It was some kind of an apartheid, a separation by color, a racism.
Those that refused to sign up to the new apartheid were threatened with a sack. And they feared for their welfare.
Matters were made worse by the wrangling between workers’ representatives. The best were about to be guillotined by the management in favor of those ‘Yes men’ that we often find in companies that often by random probability come from western and eastern tribes. No spine.
Efforts of employees to join a trade union of their choice are frustrated by the company and [RAWU] Railway and Allied Workers Union which works closely with the employer.
‘We are still at home and the have even decided to lay off those that won’t sign the contract. We beg you, sir, kindly help us expose these guys, they are becoming too much. Thank you”, he concluded
But this is not shocking because Afristar was used to this mistreatment of staff. In another email to cnyakundi.com, a staffer narrated how workers went without salaries for some long time despite business boom.
Below some attached new contracts and notices sent n June 2020 shows how Afristar staff are being shafted dry fry:
One file withheld due to sensitive personal data
Some other complaints included:
The operator shipped in extra migrant workers with exaggerated job titles as their work permits from ministry of interior show. Many Chinese are not even conversant with the job titles in their work permit.
Rules & regulations are used to victimize and ensnare employees into the desires of the employer. A department known as safety supervision department is set aside not for train operation safety but to come up with the most intimidating rules for employees and revise them momentarily to suit the company’s desire. Document 75-2020 which works hand in hand with another unnamed document famously known as “NEGLIGENCE” contains the laid down procedures for punishing employees.
‘Negligence’ acts as the disciplinary charge for any rule broken by the employees. Workshop heads and departmental heads are given a monthly target of how many disciplinary charges they ought to have made, Failure to reach the target or to avail any disciplinary charge against Kenyans the top management then punishes the said Chinese supervisor or manager for not doing his work. This system of administration forces the employees to live with their supervisors in a way that depicts the prey and predator version of life. Kenyans have to live under fear and feel threatened by the sight of a Chinese man/woman. For instance a supervisor will leave aside their duty to hunt down employees for mistakes. At an extreme case a Chinese manager is quoted pleading a Kenyan to sign a negligence charge so as to bail him out of punishment.
At this moment the Kenyan will sign the false charge to save his manager lest his stay at the workplace will be unbearable. Kenyans who defy such orders have always been implicated with various issues thanks to the safety supervision department and the HR department and shown the door. The rate of
dismissals at the Afristar are extremely shocking for a company that is committed to building bilateral ties as the Belt and Road initiative wants us to believe.
Here the promotion is not via merit it’s handed out non-competitively to those whom the administration wants and there is nothing we can do about it. Secondly, the Deputy general manager (Gachuhi) is blacklisted by world bank for squandering money in the previous Rift valley railways (RVR) before he was thrown out by Kenya railways.
Previously employees complained and no much investigation was done into the matter, At the same
government officials such as CS Macharia came out to fiercely defend the operator, while the then government spokesperson Eric Kiraithe said “Kenyans at the SGR should bear with the Chinese” Kenyans will never forget
Am sitting here in 2021 wondering if the above issues have been resolved, it is a bane, a cause of great distress or annoyance if nothing has been done to improve the conditions for employees at Afristar.
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