Kitale business owners warn Saboti MP Caleb Amisi, told he may scare investors away

Saboti MP Caleb Amisi

“We are shocked that the MP Caleb Amisi decided to take the supermarkets matter to the floor of the National Assembly before consultations with the state department of labour and management of the named companies, provoking closure of the supermarkets ”he said- Trans Nzoia County Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Martin Waliaula

By David Musundi in Kitale

The business community in Trans Nzoia County wants politicians to be careful with their utterances as the country approaches general elections to avoid scaring away investors. Trans Nzoia County Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Martin Waliaula said the recent utterances by Saboti MP Caleb Amisi on the floor of the house were worrying and should be discouraged at all costs.

Mr Waliaula observed that the attacks on a chain of supermarkets operating in the Central Business District of Kitale Town was in bad test and was meant to scare away investors. “We are shocked that the legislator decided to take the supermarkets matter to the floor of the National Assembly before consultations with the state department of labour and management of the named companies, provoking closure of the supermarkets ”he said.

Mr Waliaula who spoke to The Weekly Vision in Kitale on Tuesday said there could be examples of bad practice, adding that ” challenges were not occurring in large numbers across the sector as alleged by the MP. “Politicians should be reminded that rushing to condemn the supermarkets could end up igniting hatred and loss of jobs ”, he said. The Chambers boss said that trade unions are on the front line fighting poverty, inequality, injustice and negotiating a better deal for workers each day and shouldn’t be fought by politicians.

He said: “The role of traders in Kitale and other towns has never been more critical than today, as in-work poverty is on the rise and zero-hours contracts are widespread. He said politicians firing criticisms at the fast-growing business in the county were doing so with ulterior motives.

Mr Amisi had named Khetias, Transmart, G.H. Tanna, Jalaram wholesalers, Suam Hardware and Quick mart supermarkets in parliament for not complying with the provisions of the regulations of wages general amendment order and provisions of labour laws

The motion sought to have the supermarkets and wholesalers censured for not complying with the provisions of the regulations of wages, general amendment order, provisions of labour laws and failing to pay workers the stipulated minimal wages. Mr Amisi had named Khetias, Transmart, G.H. Tanna, Jalaram wholesalers, Suam Hardware and Quick mart supermarkets in parliament for not complying with the provisions of the regulations of wages general amendment order and provisions of labour laws.

” These traders have among other things failed to pay their workers stipulated minimal wages, denied them annual and sick leaves. The workers have also been denied statutory deductions among all other benefits”, the first time legislator said. The Supermarkets said the legislator was acting on fear and asked him to liaise with respective unions instead of using threats.

“We want politicians to verify information from the ground before making unfounded allegations that threaten to cause bad blood between employers and employees. We will be seeking to have a sitting with the MP and other stakeholders to put records straight”, said Munir Ahmed.

Workers at the supermarkets and wholesalers had asked the MP to intervene in the matter, saying they had been denied to join labour unions. “To move away from a low-wage economy, I think that increasing the collective bargaining power of workers is critical”, a worker at Quick mart said

The renowned trader observed that such threats directed at the supermarkets at a time when the country was geared towards next year’s general elections scare away investors who move to other countries hence affecting the economy. “The business community suffers whenever there is instability in the country. This is why politicians who seek reelection on populist agenda should be very careful with their utterances so as not to cause tension.

Workers at the supermarkets and wholesalers had asked the MP to intervene in the matter, saying they had been denied to join labour unions. “To move away from a low-wage economy, I think that increasing the collective bargaining power of workers is critical”, a worker at Quick mart said.

“By expanding trade union access to workplaces, we can help to make this happen”, the worker who sought anonymity said. Mr Munir denied accusations that the supermarkets had denied employees the right to join labour unions” Our employees are free to join a union if they wish and we respect our workers’ individual rights to do so”, he said. Other supermarkets named also issue issued a statement on the matter.

A spokesman said: “We offer industry-leading pay and benefits, as well as career opportunities, in a safe, modern work environment. “If you want a true assessment of our working conditions just make a stopover at any of the supermarkets and wholesalers for verification instead of being fed on hearsay”, he said. Mr Amisi’s motion was referred to the departmental committee on labour and social welfare.

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