Today I decided to buy a drink at Uchumi. My intention was to find out the level of tension and probably the pain the employees have been forced to endure following the company’s actions. So, I tried to get information from them but it was unfruitful, everybody seemed to cover their back by working in silence.
Reports claim that the company has sacked 253 employees in five of its brunches claiming that they are loss making. According to the company; branch closures and redundancies will see it make monthly savings of Sh40 million as the affected outlets were perennially in the red.
“Their closure will enable us channel our resources to fewer branches and optimise operations for maximum gain,” said chief executive Julius Kipng’etich.
On Monday, the company closed Nairobi’s Taj Mall, Embu, Eldoret, Nakuru and Kisii. The reduced number of outlets has increased the number of job seekers since most workers were thrown on the streets.
The company carried out the operation for their own benefit without considering their employees. To fight for the grievances, the Kenya Union of Commercial, Food and Allied Workers, which represents Uchumi workers, vowed to challenge the sackings at the Industrial Court.
“This is to therefore ask you to conduct an all-inclusive restructuring exercise involving a professional and the union at every step,” the union’s secretary general Boniface Kavuvi said in a letter dated March 15, 2016, according to Business Daily.
Uchumi has built a culture of laying off its workers. Last year, the company sacked 900 workers after exiting Uganda and Tanzania by closing the chain’s entire 11 loss-making shops in the neighboring countries.
Uchumi suffered a Sh1.69 billion hit as impairment costs for the Uganda and Tanzania operations. Before then, the retailer had closed two of its outlets in Kenya; one in Rongai and the other in Syokimau.
The company’s stakeholders want the company to be leaner and minimize its operations in the country hence the massive sacking.