KENYA – The New Kenya Co-operative Creameries (KCC), state-owned dairy processor has laid off 280 casual workers at its factory in Nyahururu, Laikipia County in a restructuring move.

In a letter dated February 29, Managing Director Simon Wanjangi said the contracts had been terminated with immediate effect “as there was not much production going on at the factory.”

“This is to inform you that due to the temporary stoppage of production operations in the factory, to give room for factory modernisation, the management has decided to terminate your services with immediate effect,” Wanjangi stated.

This comes days before a planned visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta next week to assess the progress of its expansion.

In January the president ordered for ksh.575m (US$5.69m) to be channelled to the cooperative to cater for construction of the creamery’s additional processing plants in Nyeri and Nyahururu.

This is in addition to the ksh. 500m (US$4.94m) disbursed to mop up excess milk from farmers and convert it to powder milk which will be stored in strategic reserves for future us.

However, some of the affected workers have not received the news well stating, “There is no clear explanation as to why our services were terminated. We are reading mischief in the whole process and suspecting a hidden motive,” said Mr James Mwangi, the casual workers’ spokesperson.

“Some of us have worked for as many as ten years in the factory and the management does not want to employ us on permanent basis as required by law,” claimed Mr. Mwangi.

Mr Mwangi added that farmers in the region were delivering milk at the factory, an indication that processing was ongoing.

“If there is no production going on at the factory, then why are farmers still supplying their milk to the factory?” he posed.

The Nyahururu factory serves dairy farmers in Nyandarua, Laikipia and parts of Baringo county.

In Meru county, KCC has commenced the construction of the ksh.250m (US$2.49m) milk cooling plant in Nyambene, Central Kenya.

The facility, whose construction is set to be completed in October this year will have a holding capacity of 100,000 litres.

Unlike other New KCC cooling facilities, the Nyambene plant will, in addition to bulking and chilling, pasteurize the raw milk before it is transported to processing facilities.

The plant will serve dairy farmers from five of the nine sub-counties in Meru County that include Tigania East, Tigania West, Tigania Central, Igembe North and Igembe South which are currently served by smallholder farmers cooperatives and self-help groups that handle a daily average of 50,000 litres.