Storm brews in tea cup

In an address to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) plenary in Geneva, Switzerland, Cotu secretary-general, Francis Atwoli, sharply criticised the move saying it would rob tea pickers of their jobs. “We are disturbed by the activities of some multinationals operating in the tea sector in Kenya which seem hell-bent on sacrificing jobs in pursuit of profits and under the guise of competitiveness,” said Atwoli in a statement released yesterday. Atwoli told the meeting attended by top government officials, employers and workers that there was the need to caution developing countries from the harmful effects of globalisation. He appealed to ILO to devise strategies that would strike a balance between the application of technology by investors and the protection of job opportunities. “It is on record that ILO has always advocated for labour-intensive technologies, which guarantee increased employment opportunities and protection of existing ones,” said Atwoli. “As Kenyan workers, we call upon ILO to direct greater focus on finding the best solution in balancing investors’ need for competitiveness and the workers need for increased employment opportunities and job security.” He said the Kenyan government recognised employment and wealth creation as crucial in poverty eradication. Plans for the full-scale introduction of motorised machines to pluck the crop on large estates owned by multinational firms has generated heat in the local tea industry. ‘ The East African Standard.

June 2006
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