Flower farms in Naivasha have started sending home hundreds of workers as effects of Covid-19 bite.
Earlier, the workers were on half-pay as the employers monitored the European market, which has been adversely hit by the pandemic with many of the countries on lockdown
Ferdinand Juma, who is a member of the Kenya Plantations and Agricultural Workers Union, said the move has left hundreds of workers penniless.
Mr Juma said Oserian flower farm has already sent home 750 workers after they completed the monthly half-pay period. “The firms first sent their workers on paid leave and later on half pay as the crisis deepened and they have now been forced to send them home without pay,” he said.
Juma noted that several firms had communicated to their employees about the same plan while others like Longonot Horticulture has called for voluntary resignation.
“More than 200 workers of Longonot Horticulture have expressed their desire to resign voluntarily and we are working with the management on their dues,” he said.
Juma admitted that the situation in the sector that employs thousands of people was getting worse by the day and affecting the employees.
He noted that more than 5,000 workers who have been laid off or sent on unpaid leave are in dire need of food. Juma said the union has presented the plight of the workers to the county and national governments.
“We understand that there is a programme by the national and county governments to feed those affected by the pandemic and we appeal that the workers be considered,” he said.
Naivasha Sub-county Commissioner Mathioya Mbogo said the area disaster management committee met to establish how the affected families can benefit from government support.
He disclosed that chiefs and village elders were assisting in identifying and registering those affected by the pandemic.
“The committees involved in identifying the most affected persons have already met and we shall start distributing the food once we receive it from the government,” he said