NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 9 – Workers in the state-owned sugar mills have appealed to the government to pay arrears owed to them amounting to Sh1.2 billion.
Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers General Secretary Francis Wangara on Monday workers in the mills are facing a financial crisis as a result of the arrears.
Wangara said the government only paid the arrears owed to the farmers but failed to address the plight of workers.
“We have even appealed to the government to see if they can work out ways to see if they can also pay the arrears to the workers the same way they paid the arrears to the farmers,” he said.
He said the salary arrears date back to several years and should be paid before the mills are privatized.
“Private investors should not find arrears still hanging on the workers so that the investors will not have issues to do with workers’ arrears but will come to start operations,” he said.
Speaking to the press in Kisumu, Wangara said the mills are collapsing and should be rejuvenated through disposal in the privatization process.
He told the privatization committee to move with speed and make sure farmers know the next investors to save the industry which is on the verge of collapsing.
However, he warned that the current management should not be trusted with the revival of the sugar milling companies.
“Most of the management staff came on board when the companies were in operations and most of them have gone down in their hands. They lack ideas to revive these companies and can’t be trusted,” he said.
Wangara said the government must quickly identify strategic investors to pump in new lease of life to the mills to cushion farmer from sufferings.
He said the state mills will close by December if nothing is done to salvage their operations.
“If you look at Nzoia, we’re told the boiler can collapse any time, Chemelil and Muhoroni are not in operation, Sony is operating hardly one day or two days in a week.”