Shady employment scheme at China State Construction
Am an employee of China State Construction Engineering Company (CSCEC) located in Lokichar, Turkana South. The firm won the contract to construct the 40-Kilometre A1 Road that Connects Kenya and Sudan.
The company started her duties early March 2020 during the outbreak of Coronavirus in Kenya. One of the most dehumanizing factors is that, from the onset, this firm has been underpaying its employees.
Firstly, they started paying their employees through M-PESA (a tax evasion route) but later upgraded to Bank account payments, however, the payments were devoid of both Pay slips and P9 Forms until April 2021.
Many were employed and were issued with no Contract for months. This is done so as to underpay such workers.
I worked for six months without a contract, until early this year where I was given now a few months’ contract with a ‘No negotiation table about the wages/salary’, clause in the contract. I later on found that I was being underpaid. The Human Resource Office also confirmed this. I was assured not to worry and that they will add something to my salary which was a total lie.
Cat and mouse games
On April 26th 2021, there was a strike of all the employees in demand of Salary increment as per the Minimum wages 2018. At this very date the HR at the Time Mr. Martin Ndiema who was playing the role of Human Resource as well as Accountant left the Office leaving the powers to the Deputy Mrs. Ascar Cheruiyot.
On 26th we never got any Response from the Employer thus the strike extended. On 27th, the labour Officer in charge of Trans-Nzoia, West Pokot and Turkana Counties arrived.
After Negotiations with employees, Mr. Sakwa, the Labour Officer went with the Workers Committee to the Employer where an agreement was made and Signed by Workers Committee signatories, Employer Representative Mr. Hang Bing and Labour Officer. (The Copy of that agreement attached).
On 28th we all reported back to job until a rumour again on the middle of the day came that no one was going to get a salary increment.
On 29th, the strike resumed, that’s when the HR, a Mrs Ascar Cheruiyot confirmed to Workers that the salary will be paid as per the minimum wages to all the departments except Survey Department, Foremen, Operators and Drivers.
There was no clear picture.
When April salaries were paid then complaints raised again. It was only the General labourers who were paid as per the minimum wages. Most of the groups were also paid as general labourers against their contracts. Since arrangements of Departments as per the minimum wages 2018 was hard, the labour Officer again was called to come back and Rescue the HRs Office.
On arrival, he was supposed to come up to the field and confirm from Workers. Behind our backs, the labour Officer came, renegotiated with the Employer and verbally agreed to pay some of the Groups as per the minimum wages 2018 leaving 40% of the employees. (I have attached copy).
That was the middle of the month of May, 2021. Since all our grievances were not made another strike was held on 24th of May. Employees came to realize that they are working for China State and their salaries were paid by a different company.
So there was this Chinese man named William who was arrogant with the workers to the extent of fighting employees. So the demand of employees was to remove William from the office, plus some two Africans who were seen as the blocking wall for our salary increment as per the minimum wages.
Another strike, meetings and threats
On 24th morning, another strike ensued.
Employees marched to the DCCs Office in Lokichar and the Employer was called to table talk with other stakeholders from the company and the Community.
The Area Member of National Assembly and other government representatives we present.
The Employer was told to adhere to agreements they made with employees and the Labour officer.
After the meeting at the DCCs office, there was no clear clarification from the Employer thus the strike extended for the next two days. The same group that was left behind during the first strike were left in the second strike making it hard for employees to report back to work.
So there was this divide and rule that was played by the HRs Office. You were being called to the office and you were told to accept the rate that you were to be paid with or you were to be terminated. The HR himself confirmed to me that it was the Labour Officer that said that we should be treated this way.
On-demand of the documents that Labour Officer used there was no feedback. We are back at work. Some groups have been sorted out. Other groups are still being underpaid. Our safety is not assured. When you talk you are being terminated.
We need Help. Somebody Rescue Please.
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