article by GEORGE MURAGE for The Star Newspaper
The largest flower farm in Naivasha, Oserian Ltd, plans to lay off more than 400 workers citing low European market demand and high cost of production. This comes months after the neighbouring Karuturi Flower Farm shut down operations, sending home more than 3,000 workers.
Insider sources at Oserian said the firm will retrench the workers, who include management staff, by the end of September.
The farm had announced plans to send home 618 workers but the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union moved to court to stop the move. A senior manager, who declined to be named, confirmed this, adding the market is poor because demand in Europe is low. The manager cited high cost of power and labour in the farm that has more than 3,000 workers.
“The price of flowers has remained stagnant for the last three years against a rise in farm inputs and cost of power leading to the redundancy move,” the manager said.
KPAWU branch secretary Ferdinand Juma said out of the 406 workers to be laid off, 88 are managers. Juma said the union filed the case after Oserian failed to follow the laws of retrenchment.
“The farm initially wanted to lay off 618 workers but we went to court over the manner the process was being carried out. The number has been reduced to 406,” KPAWU boss said.
He assured the workers facing retrenchment that they will receive all their allowances and benefits as per the labour laws.
“The move to sack the 400 workers plus the recent closure of Karuturi Flower Farm has sent shivers among the hundreds of flower farm workers over the future of this sector,” Juma said.
He said the management of Oserian could be outsourcing some of the jobs on the cut list.
“We have information that the farm has hired a company to outsource new workers for them and we are ready to go to court.”