KENYA – Tea plantation owners sighed with relief after the Court of Appeal cut wage increment for workers to 16% from the 30% awarded earlier by the High Court, with the increment split into two with 8% given for 2014 and the balance for 2015.

The High Court had given 15% for each year, but the large tea farmers disagreed with it and appealed.

“We find that the appeal has merit and we hereby allow the same rate of pay is hereby awarded at 8% [and] 8% for the 2014/2015 CBA across the board,” said justices Alnashir Visram, W. Karanja and Martha Koome in the judgment dated February 16.

The lower court had also allowed workers’ plea for full pay for an extra day every week – amounting to four days a month – which would have meant the companies pay for a day not worked.

Currently, the companies pay for 26 days a month, which are the actual working days.

Paying for another four days would mean the total would come to 30 days, leading to a 15% increase in the wage bill.

The plantations argued that this would increase the cost of production to the detriment of the companies that are members of the Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA), which in total produce 40% of all tea in Kenya annually.

Tea plantation workers had earlier been awarded Sh30,000 for funeral expenses by the lower court, but on appeal the amount was reduced to US$270.87

The plantation owners also benefited in the way of an increase in the minimum amount of green leaf that each worker should produce per day.

Previously, each worker was required to meet a target of 33 kilogrammes a day, but the large farmers argued that the target was too low given that technology and crop husbandry had improved as well as the fact that this figure had been set decades ago.

It was normal for the employees to produce between 45 and 60 kilogrammes per day, the planters said.

The Court of Appeal granted their request for the target to be increased to 45 kilos per day or 1,170 kilos per month from 865 kilos previously.

Business Daily