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The End Of Bidco Is Nigh: Parliament Vows To Stand With Oppressed Workers.

Caption: Protest against Bidco CEO Vimal Shah at Financial Times Africa Summit                                                                                                                                           

The following is an official Hansard on the discussion of the on-going probe by parliament, into labour violations by Bidco Africa.

Meanwhile misguided donors are still funding Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) founded by Vimal Shah, to launch bogus seminars, trying to condition Kenyans to accept whatever results IEBC cooks up, for the sake of peace and their business interests.

Corporate interests do not supercede the collective wishes of the citizenry. There can be no peace without justice.

Thursday, 24th November, 2016
The House met at 2.30 p.m.
[The Deputy Speaker
(Hon. (Dr.) Laboso)in the Chair]

Hon. Deputy Speaker: Hon. Members, Standing Order No.225(2)(b) requires that the Speaker reports to the House any petition other than those presented through Members of Parliament. Therefore, I wish to convey to the House that my office is in receipt of a Petition signed by seven citizens of the Republic of Kenya, on behalf of former employees of BIDCO (Africa) Limited commonly referred as “BIDCO” regarding violation of labour laws.

The petitioners allege that BIDCO (Africa) Limited has continued to violate the labour laws by exercising discrimination in employment, denying employees their right to join workers’ unions, failing to offer workmen compensation insurance to its employees as required in law, and failing to submit statutory deductions to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

The petitioners pray that the National Assembly investigates and inquires into the matter and makes recommendations to the relevant agencies to take appropriate action against BIDCO (Africa) Limited.

Hon. Members, I am aware that the Departmental Committee on Labour and Social Welfare is considering a similar petition on alleged violation of labour laws by BIDCO (Africa) Limited presented to this House by the Member for Kiambu County, Hon. Jude Njomo. I urge the Committee to consider this Petition alongside the earlier one and report its findings to the petitioners and the House in accordance with Standing Order No.227(2). Therefore, the Petition stands committed to the Departmental Committee on Labour and Social Welfare.

Hon. Nicholas Gumbo.

Hon. (Eng.) Gumbo: Hon. Deputy Speaker, I wish to thank the presenters of this Petition, especially coming so soon after almost a similar petition on violation of labour laws and other laws, particularly obligations of corporate entities with regard to tax payment by the East African Breweries Limited.

As Members of Parliament, it will amount to dereliction of our duty if our people petition us in vain. The National Assembly addresses matters that are of concern to all Kenyans, irrespective of the constituencies they come from. As you commit this Petition to the Departmental Committee on Labour and Social Welfare, I urge that this House must be at the forefront in instituting those measures that will ensure that the dignity of Kenyans is preserved. You will recall, for example, that one of the silent abuses that go on in our country is where foreigners and expatriates take up jobs which should be done by the people of Kenya. I admit that as a country, we cannot exist in a vacuum and we are part of the global community. The laws governing what work foreigners can do in this country are very clear. We are abusing those laws.

Hon. Deputy Speaker, even as we look at these petitions particularly the ones that relate to abuse of Kenyans by foreigners, I am a believer – and you and I are well travelled – that one of the requirements that anybody who comes to work in this country as a foreigner must comply with is to respect the people of Kenya. That is an irreducible minimum. You have gone to many countries and when you go to those countries, the people there have to be respected. We are seeing widespread abuses of our people by foreigners. We are not in any way trying to suggest that we do not want other people to come and work in our country. Kenya too has very many people who work in other countries. What we are saying is that anybody, particularly foreigners who come to work here, must recognise that the dignity of the people of Kenya must be upheld.

One of the ways of ensuring that that dignity is upheld is by paying our people a living wage. Many of our people who work in these companies are doing no more than servitude and it is unacceptable. I would encourage the Committee to look into this matter and ensure that anyone who comes to work here, whether it is a local company or a company that has its origin in another country, upholds the dignity of the people of Kenya and they are paid a living wage.

Hon. Deputy Speaker: Hon. Sunjeev, do you want to contribute on the same?

Hon. (Ms.) Sunjeev: Thank you, Hon. Deputy Speaker. I would like to contribute to the Petition that has been brought by some petitioners who are well within their right to bring petitions to Parliament. I have absolutely nothing against people who feel that their rights have been violated, especially in areas where they have been mistreated.

The previous speaker mentioned people who come from abroad and set up shop here. I would like to mention that in this particular case, specifically as far as BIDCO is concerned, we are all aware that many of these cases are in court. I would just urge the Committee to look into these cases very seriously and make sure that they are not already in court. I have a feeling that somebody has a personal vendetta against BIDCO. But that is just my feeling. I hope they are not out to get some personal interest out of people who contribute a lot to our society.

Hon. Deputy Speaker: Hon. Junet, do you want to contribute on the same? Give him the microphone.

Hon. Oyoo: Thank you very much, Hon. Deputy Speaker. I want to report to the House that I am a Member of the Departmental Committee on Labour and Social Welfare.

Hon. Deputy Speaker: Hon. Koyoo, I called on Hon. Junet. I do not know when you became Hon. Junet. It is Junet that I called. Hold your horses.

Hon. Nuh: Hon. Deputy Speaker, I am sorry, Hon. Koyoo is a sugarcane farmer. I stand to support the petitioners. The matter that the petitioners have raised is very important for this country. These are some of the benefits that Kenyans gained through the new Constitution that they achieved in 2010, where Kenyans can petition Parliament on an issue that is so important to them.

I do not want to discuss the Petition, but I expect the Committee that you have committed this matter to, to deal with the matter expeditiously. I am aware that these matters that the petitioners have raised are of grave importance to them. There are people who have been employed in certain sectors for the last 10 years as casual labourers where 50 per cent of the workers in some of those companies remain perpetual casual labourers, so that they do not gain any rights. This country is very friendly to investors. We would like to attract investments, but we cannot do that at the expense of Kenyans. Kenyans’ rights must be safeguarded as enshrined in the Constitution.

So, I take these few minutes to support the petitioners and tell the Committee that BIDCO is a big problem and they need to look at it carefully.
Hon. Deputy Speaker: Hon. K’oyoo, you may have your turn.

Hon. Oyoo: Thank you very much, Hon. Deputy Speaker. I am a Member of the Departmental Committee on Labour and Social Welfare. I am afraid that my Chairman and the Vice-Chairman are not here. I wish to formally report to the House that we have delved into this issue. This morning we had an engagement with the Petitioner and we have charted the way forward.

As a Committee, we intend to use this as a launching pad for massive investigations into various powerful employers who are fond of breaking rules and who do not operate within the law as required by the Constitution of this country.
As a Committee, we will ensure that they are brought to book and are not sympathised with however big or highly connected in the political class they are. We will make sure that they are dealt with properly. We will use the BIDCO case as a launching pad.

I want to assure this House that many of us have relevant experience in requisite labour law and we will ensure that the truth prevails and Kenyans workers, who are, by extension, contributors of the taxes that we enjoy, are treated with dignity as opposed to the stated case. I will personally take this up because in my constituency, there is a sugar miller who has become an influence peddler. He is bringing in raw sugar to ensure that he brings down the entire sugar industry. We will not allow that and we know that he is very highly connected politically. We will not allow this to happen.

Hon. Deputy Speaker: Do not debate and give us other extraneous issues.

Hon. Oyoo: Thank you very much, Hon. Deputy Speaker.

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