Mumias Sugar Company employees today protested a delay in salary payment and accused Sarrai Group of ‘importing’ workers from Uganda to the sugar miller. The workers, who staged demonstrations, said they have not been paid for several months despite the Uganda-based company purporting to take over operations.
“We want arrears to be paid immediately,” Mr Patrick Mutimbo, one of the workers, told the media. “We also want locals to be allowed to work in the company and Ugandans who were brought in by Sarrai to be deported back to their country. The few Kenyans working inside are working overtime and they are not being compensated.”
The workers also accused Sarrai Group of not retaining the workers after taking over Mumias Sugar operations as per an agreement signed in December 2021. “Sarrai Group agreed to retain the workers and pay them their dues. The workers here are also farmers. They come from this community. Why is the company sidelining them and they are the ones who make this factory operational? Why are they (Sarrai Group) operating in darkness. What are they hiding?” one of the workers posed.
The agitated workers also accused the police of colluding with Sarrai to bar them from demanding their rights through demonstrations. “Two weeks ago, we got a permit to demonstrate but the police today came and dispersed us. They have colluded with Sarrai to deny us our right of demonstration,” Mr Mutimbo said.
The new development comes two weeks after Sarrai Group was stopped by the Court of Appeal from operating the sugar miller until a case filed against it is heard and determined. The court upheld 14th April, 2022 ruling that directed the Ugandan firm to vacate the milling company premises.
Three appellate court judges said the applicants had demonstrated an appeal will be rendered nugatory in case the execution is not stayed during the hearing of the case. “In the upshot, the notice of motion dated 27th April 2022 is allowed to the extent that there will be the stay of execution of the ruling dated 14th April 2022,” the judges ruled on Friday, September 23.
The three judges were J. Mohammed, S. Ole Kantai and Asike Makhandia. The ruling now means Sarrai remains locked out of Mumias Sugar premises. In the April ruling, the High Court judge Justice Alfred Mabeya in Nairobi cancelled the Sarrai’s 20-year lease to operate Mumias Sugar Company.