Tuskys supermarket on Thursday remained closed across all its branches countrywide after its workers went on strike demanding a better pay.
More than 7,200 workers from over 52 branches of the supermarket were protesting over a move by the retailer to withdraw overtime payment even when they are working over 15 hours daily.
The workers said Tusky’s management has failed to honour a Collective bargaining agreement (CBA) signed in March raising the basic minimum wages for its employees by 10 per cent in the first year and 11 per cent in the second year.
However, the retailer’s general manager in charge of human resource, Peter Mwenda said that they had sought guidance from the Ministry of Labour.
“We are at the Ministry of Labour,” Mr Mwenda told the Daily Nation as the firm also claimed it was working on a return-to-work formula.
The Kenya Union of Commercial, Food and Allied Workers (KUCFAW) said it signed in November a collective bargaining agreement with Tuskys to raise the basic minimum wage for its employees by 10 per cent in the first year and 11 per cent in the second year.
“The administration at the third largest supermarket chain has failed to pay workers their general overtime allowances for November and has not been responsive to the CBA which was signed on March 1, 2013 for a 10 per cent wage increase,” said KUCFAW secretary general Boniface Kavuvi.
The workers also want more information from management on the acquisition of Ukwala supermarkets which is putting strain on the “meagre resources” allocated for paying salaries.
“With such stringent set-ups which also curtail workers from going for their lunch breaks there was no option but for workers to opt out of their work stations”, said Kavuvi.
Further, the CBA dictated that employees would be entitled to at least one paid off day per week from the current two per month, 23 leave days per year from 21, as well as overtime pay of one and a half times the normal hourly rate, house allowance, and paid sick leave, among other perks.
“Employees of the company who were confirmed in their appointment as at February 28, 2013 shall receive a wage increase of 10 per cent to cover the first year and a further 11 per cent from March 1, 2014 to cover the second year,” stated the CBA document.
The employees’ strike adds to Tuskys’ operational woes as it is embroiled in a fierce family dispute pitting the seven siblings who inherited the business from their late father Joram Kamau.
The sibling rivalry burst to the fore last year following revelations that Stephen Mukuha, the retailer’s managing director, had allegedly siphoned money from Tuskys’ account to related firms which were trading with the supermarket.
The matter is in court and is yet to be determined.