Despite CEO Vimal Shah’s claims that Bidco is an ideal workplace environment, on-the-job injuries are commonplace and, workers say, those injured at Bidco are cast aside with no pay or medical support.
One worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, had his fingers crushed by a fan belt when he was ordered to replace it.
“It affects my work, because I cannot lift heavy objects,” the worker says. “They never paid me anything.”
Over a dozen workers interviewed described the horrors of working at Bidco:
Injured workers are rarely paid compensation, and only if they are a contract employee. Of Bidco’s 2,500 employees in Thika, near Nairobi, only 400 are full-time employees.
Safety boots are replaced only every three years, so almost all workers perform their duties in damaged boots which last no longer than a year.
When delegations of VIPs visit Bidco, casual laborers are issued with brand new safety boots and safety gear, which is collected after the guests leave.
Day shifts are 10 hours, form 0800 hours to 1800. Night shifts are 14 hours, from 1800 to 0800. There are no regular breaks during shifts.
Supervisors are not trained in first aid, and there is no company doctor available to casual workers.
Workers who express concerns about safety are not listened to, and complaints trigger their dismissal.
Workers are actively discouraged from joining trade unions. Vimal Shah once vowed to employees that a trade union would be allowed at Bidco only after he is “dead and buried.”
“Vimal Shah is the most inhumane person I ever seen since the world was created. He never minds the affairs of casual employees. He is cruel and lacks human heart,” said another worker, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
The injured worker said: “At times, we don’t get time to rest. I only get a break of 10 minutes and a lunch break of 20 minutes.”
Shah shows no personal concerns for employee welfare when at the office, the workers say. “Whenever he visits he stays in his office. He doesn’t move around the plant,” the same worker said.
Bidco has hand-picked managers who “collude with Vimal and the Shah family to oppress, mistreat and ‘enslave’ employees,” the worker said.
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