Workers at the Mumias Sugar factory have issued a Ksh2.3 billion demand to Sarrai Group, the Ugandan firm in charge of running the miller’s business.
It has been a fortnight since the workers in Mumias town protested the delay in salary payments.
The head of the Mumias Sugar Factory Workers Association, Patrick Mutimba, accused the Uganda-based business of favouring Indians and Ugandans over locals during employment and remuneration.
‘’Sarrai Group should know that Kenyans who steered Mumias to its glory are here demanding their balances,’’ Mutimba said.
Additionally, the employees are requesting that Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and Sarrai Group start the process of paying their Ksh2.3 billion in arrears.
Mutimba claims that PVR Rao, the KCB receiver manager, declined to meet with them after turning over the factory to the Sarrai Group.
“The remarks by Sarrai Group Head of Operations Mr Kihumba that we deal with the Receiver Manager are out of order. Why is Mr Kihumba directing us to Receiver Manager when his boss said would pay all the creditors?” he posed.
Speaking to the media this morning, the employees pleaded with the Kakamega County’s authorities to step in and assist them in mediating a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
“We do have families, just like other Kenyans, who need to eat, Vitalis Makokha, a supervisor at Mumias Sugar Factory, said. “We are pleading with political leaders from Kakamega not to remain silent when a factory worth Ksh15 billion with so many assets is taken by Sarrai for less than Ksh5 billion.”
The workers organised protests a few days ago because their payments were months behind schedule. That was not long after Mumias Sugar Company gave Sarrai Group permission to resume operations. This came after a High Court ruling to halt the firm from operating the mill, which has been problematic for years, was temporarily suspended by the Court of Appeal.
The 20-year lease awarded to Sarrai was revoked by High Court judge Alfred Mabeya in April, and Kereto Marima was substituted as the administrator.
In the meantime, a selection procedure to choose a new business to lease the Mumias facility was underway. KCB Group placed The Miller under receivership in 2019 due to growing indebtedness.
“Indeed, they fear that they may not be able to recover the securities. To our mind, these fears are not idle,” appellate judges Asike Makhandia, Jamila Mohammed, and Sankale ole Kantai said.
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