REVEALED: SGR crew working without contracts, not paid when sick
More than 300 Kenyans hired by the Chinese operator of the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR passenger train are working without contracts, leaving them without legal protection and exposing the service to industrial action.
The staff, including ticketing operators and coach attendants, had since October 2016 been working on a six-month probation that ended in April when they were to be given permanent employment contracts but that has not happened.
China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) hired the locals alongside Chinese workers as security personnel, train drivers and wagon technicians.
Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina on Thursday admitted there has been a ‘contract hitch’ because the Chinese operator had asked for more time to work on the employees’ terms of service.
“We are barely two months into this contract with the operator. Most of the locals have been undergoing training at Railway Training Institute and are now working for the operator as part of the induction programme,” said Mr Maina.
“As we speak, the operator is in the process of formalising the contract and I believe it will be resolved in the next few months.”
Kenya Railways and CRBC in May signed an operations, maintenance and service agreement for the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR operation.
Under the agreement, CRBC is the operator of the SGR service for a period of five years.
The Chinese firm is also expected to maintain the equipment and rail tracks according to prescribed manuals and in line with best global industry standards.
“We have been working for a period of six months on probation, earning between Sh14,000 and Sh35,000 monthly stipend. We intend to negotiate better terms because as it is, we are not paid when off duty or we fall sick,” the workers’ representative said.