Finlays Lays off 719 Workers

An employee receiving termination papers.
An employee receiving termination papers

Kericho-based James Finlay Tea has announced that it will be letting go of 719 of its workers by the end of the year.

In a notice drawn up by the firm's Human Resource Manager on Friday, November 20, the employees were informed that their current tenure would come to an end on December 31, 2020.

“This redundancy is a result of difficult business environment caused by among others low tea prices, low demand for various products and increased external costs,” the notice reads in part.

“Considering these and in order to remain sustainable, we have restructured some of our operations leading to some roles becoming superfluous," it further reads.

James Finlay Tea estate in Kenya
James Finlay Tea estate in Kenya.

This is the second time in a year that the British multinational has announced mass layoffs. 

On October 21, the firm announced that it would be closing two of its flower farms - Chemirei and Tarakwet in Kericho County.

This left 1,700 workers jobless with the multinational firm citing high labour costs and poor prices as the reason behind the closure.

Following the latest job cuts, the company announced that the affected employees would be notified appropriately giving details of what is payable as specified in the Collective Bargain Agreement.

“We will also endeavor to provide the affected employees with appropriate support including access to our counseling services up to their exit,” the HR manager detailed.

Kenya's tea industry has been on a steady decline over the last few years.

On September 21, Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) had a hard time explaining how it calculated this year’s second payment rates for bonuses.

Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina on Saturday said farmers have made a hue and cry about low bonuses, hence KTDA, being a public body, should be answerable.

He further called for the expedition of new tea regulations so farmers could benefit and save the sector from collapsing.

“I would request the government to try and put some funding to the tea sector, which has not collapsed completely, to ensure it is saved from a total collapse like that witnessed in the coffee sector,” he advised.

2020 has been a tough year for employees, with mass layoffs registered across industries.

According to the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE),  a total of 604 firms in Kenya sent workers home due to the economic shock of the coronavirus.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics estimated that around 1.7 million people have been made redundant due to the outbreak during this time, a figure FKE termed as conservative.

Jobseekers queue on Wabera Street, Nairobi, as they wait to be interviewed by The Sarova Stanley on May 26, 2018.
Jobseekers queue on Wabera Street, Nairobi, as they wait to be interviewed by The Sarova Stanley on May 26, 2018.