Ex-Mumias Sugar workers demand salary arrears as current employees decry poor wages
Uganda-based Sarrai Group controversially won a 20-year lease tender in December 2021 following a bidding process that saw higher bidders locked out of the investment venture.
- However, in April 2022, High Court Judge Justice Alfred Mabeya ordered Sarrai Group to leave the premises and removed Ponangipali Venkata Ramana Rao as the Administrator of the company.
Former Mumias Sugar Company workers on Tuesday, February 14 camped at the sugar miller premises demanding payment of their salary arrears by Uganda-based Sarrai Group.
Led by Mumias Sugar Branch Workers Secretary Vitalis Magoha, the former workers said they were promised to be paid once the factory starts operating.
“They are now purporting to have started running the factory and they have not paid workers. They claim to produce sugar which we cannot see,” Magoha said.
Magoha said at the moment company plants are rotting and called on President William Ruto to intervene.
“We don’t have only sugar factory in Mumias. There are ethanol, coal and water plants that are wasting away. Mr. President, we are losing a lot of property and Sarrai Group does not have the capacity to run this company.
“As you promised, please bring us a new investor to rescue this company,” he said.
The workers further said Sarrai Group does not care about workers who are currently working in the factory, claiming there payments are low and some of them have died in the line of duty due to poor working conditions.
“I used to work inside the factory as a loader being paid Ksh600 per day. Since Sarrai Group came, we were fired and when we went back, we were told they could only pay KSh250 per day.
“Our jobs inside were taken by Ugandans who are paid better than us. We are suffering,” a worker, Patrick Wanga, said.
Another worker, Musa Chebii, said the current workers neither have contracts nor insurance.
“Some of us who are working in the factory do not have contracts nor insurance cover. Most of us have been injured in the line of duty and we were not give any compensation,” Chebii said.
Ruto promises new investor
While in Kakamega County last December, President Ruto promised to get new investor to revive the troubled miller.
"The government will clear all outstanding debts of the miller and bring in a new investor under an agreement that he will be remitting Sh100 million monthly to the County Government of Kakamega to improve on standards of education, health and improve the road network," he said.
Sarrai had controversially won 20-year lease tender in December 2021 following a bidding process that saw higher bidders locked out of the investment venture.
However, in April 2022, High Court judge Justice Alfred Mabeya ordered Sarrai to leave the premises and removed Ponangipali Venkata Ramana Rao as the Administrator of the company.
Mabeya further appointed Kereto Marima as the new administrator of Mumias Sugar Company and ordered Rao to hand over the company to Marima.
“This court has considered the allegations made against the leasing process. Rao awarded the lease to the lowest bidder while there were higher bidders, without giving any justifiable explanation,” the judge ruled.
Justice Mabeya said public interest demands that receivership that has yielded zero results takes a back seat and a professional administration of Mumias is given a chance.
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