James Finlays Limited has announced that it will be shutting down their flower farm in Kericho County which employs at least 2,000 people.
The company that runs large tea and flower farms disclosed that it would undertake a phased closure of the flower farm from May citing high labour costs and constant strikes by employees.
The move renders at least 2,000 employees jobless but the company maintained that it would try to find opportunities for the workers in other farms.
“The closure of both Chemirei and Tarakwet will take place over a two-and-half years starting May starting 2018 to end of December 2020,” noted General Manager Steve Scott in a statement.
He, however, clarified that the company would expand operations at its Lemotit farm in Londiani.
“The company has deliberately chosen a phased closure of the Kericho operations in order to minimize the impact on employees and their families. James Finlay is committed to helping employees find other job opportunities where practicable,” the statement read in part.
James Finlays employees were among 40,000 workers from Kericho, Bomet and Nandi who went on strike in 2017 demanding a 30 percent pay increase as had been ordered by the industrial court.
Under the Kenya Agricultural and Plantation Workers’ Union (KAPWU) banner, they downed their tools and roped in Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli to help them agitate for the raise.
Atwoli maintained that the workers should stay away from the farms until they signed a favourable Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
"The land belongs to the local community and these foreigners are applying what is called indirect slavery in a country that gained its independence in 1963. That is why we even want the piece of land to be reverted back to the county once the leases expire,” he stated.