M a r k e t N e w s

Tea output to increase by 13pc despite strikes

Posted on : Friday, 12th August 2016

The agricultural industry regulator is bullish that Kenya’s tea output will hit over 450 million kilograms despite recent strikes that paralysed activities at the country’s tea companies.


According to Agricultural, Fisheries and Food Authority, the June and July strikes by 20,000 tea pickers in Bomet and Kericho counties over pay dispute are unlikely to cut the production forecast. “There is no change to the output forecast,” Agricultural, Fisheries and Food Authority acting director-general Alfred Busolo was quoted as saying by Reuters.


Last year, about 399 million kilograms was produced and Busolo says owing to the good rainfall in tea growing areas, the output will be better. Tea pickers went on strike after Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA) advised tea firms against affecting the ruling by Employment and Labour Relations Court that awarded workers a 30 per cent salary increase.


Instead, KTGA moved to the Court of Appeal seeking to reverse the ruling, even as workers reacted angrily by boycotting work. The Kenya Plantations and Agricultural Workers Union told firms that it could not intervene in ending the strike.


However, tea pickers have since resumed duty after Ministry of Labour intervened allowing the award to be implemented in two phases. All major big tea estates in the Rift Valley region, which account for about 40 per cent of the country’s entire production, were affected during the two months.

Nairobi-Securities Exchange-listed tea firm Williamson Tea Kenya joined Kapchorua Tea, James Finlay, Sotik Tea Company Limited, Kipkebe Tea, and Sotik Highlands Tea Estate in the long list of firms whose activities were affected.


Tea estate farms had expressed concern that the hike in workers’ pay would increase the cost of doing business and discourage investment in the sector. Currently, Kenya is the world’s leading exporter of black tea. —Additional reporting by Reuters


Source : www.standardmedia.co.ke
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