June 16, 2024

Mawasco Workers Strike Over Poor Conditions

County Executive Committee Member (CEC) for Water and Sanitation Omar Said addressing striking workers outside the company offices in Malindi town on Thursday. (Photo The COAST Camera Man)

An employee of the Malindi Water and Sewerage Company (MAWASCO) was injured on June 29, 2023 after riot police officers fired teargas canister to disperse striking workers demanding for better terms of service.

Majali Katana, was rushed to hospital on a motorcycle, after being hit by a teargas while chanting slogans and singing -bbado – mapambano – at the company’s main gate.

Before the incident, some 250 workers had blocked the main entrance to the company’s offices in Malindi town using trucks and demanded to be addressed by the company management

Many who spoke to the media said they had gone to MAWASCO to demand for their rights on salary increment promised by the management seven years ago to date.

“We can no longer fend for ourselves due to the ongoing economic hardships prevailing in the country,” said one of the strikers who declined to give his name.

Also, the strikers protested non remittance of monies deducted from their salaries to their respective cooperative societies to service their loans or medical insurances.

Trouble started when Kilifi county executive committee member (CECM) for water and sanitation Omar Said arrived with a police contingent and attempted to address the sitting-in workers.

However, the angry workers engaged the CECM in a shouting matches that turned into a commotion prompting the officers to fire in the air and lob teargas canisters sending everybody scampering for safety.

The resulting huge cloud of smoke permeated towards the adjacent Malindi deputy county commissioner (DCC)’s office.

The victim, Katana, told journalists before being rushed to hospital that the workers were peacefully exercising their constitutional rights to demand for better remuneration and wondered why the management involved police to hurt them.

Moses Mwandoro said the management had promised to increase their salaries seven years ago but this had not been done saying they only received a Sh2,000 increment on house allowance and not the basic salary.

“The junior most worker here receives a monthly salary of a paltry Sh14,000 as if they are working as domestic workers making many of them to be unable to cater for basic needs.”

David Garama Ngowa called on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate why the management was not remitting their statutory deductions to the beneficiaries as directed by each employee.

Contacted for comment, CECM told reporters that he was yet to understand why the workers had downed their tools first and then listen what the management had to say before giving a comprehensive statement.

“I tried to talk to them but they refused; hence I really do not know what has made them to go on strike. I am told that one of the issues is that they want certain managers to be sacked, but there are procedures of firing workers.”

On the issue of salary increment, Mr Said said that was subject to availability of funds and could not be implemented at the whims of the workers.

But the CECM could neither deny nor confirm the issue of salary deductions not being remitted to relevant beneficiaries as instructed by the workers’ preferences. 

However, he promised investigate the issue to know the position before taking any action.

Based on the fracas that ensued, he warned that those workers found culpable would be dealt with in accordance with the law.

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