Minister Chebrot Stops Railyway Workers' Strike

2102 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Dr Stephen Chebrot, the state minister for transport intervened last evening to stop a strike by workers of Rift Valley railways that was scheduled to begin today. Sources in Rift Valley Railways told URN that the workers had scheduled to lay down their tools this morning to protest alleged discrimination by the company management.

Dr Stephen Chebrot, the state minister for transport intervened on Wednesday evening to stop a strike by workers of Rift Valley railways that was scheduled to begin Thursday. Sources in Rift Valley Railways told URN that the workers had scheduled to lay down their tools on Thursday morning to protest alleged discrimination by the company management.

 
 They accuse the management of RVR of giving their Kenyan counterparts a 17 percent rise last month leaving out Ugandans. A union worker who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the press says that the RVR management increased the salaries of Kenyan workers after the union wrote a letter to government to terminate its contract with RVR after it failed to invest money in the railway networks

 
In their letter, the workers accused the RVR consortium of running down the train system to the extent that they took over 22 locomotives which have since reduced to 15. The union also accused management of recruiting top managers who earn fat salaries and allowances without paying attention to the lower staff. As a result, the workers in Kampala also planned to lay down their tools today, forcing the state minister for transport to intervene.


On Wednesday evening, Chebrot held a crisis meeting with the leadership of RVR management including Group Chief Executive Officer, Brown Ondego, who flew in from Nairobi. However, before the meeting started the management of RVR demanded that the workers withdraw their letter to the government in vain. Chebrot assured the RVR management that the contents of the letter would not be used against them.


The Minister promised to put his assurance in writing upon which also management promised to increase the salaries of the Uganda workers by 15 percent. The workers who had laid down plans for the strike via text message called off the strike but vowed to resume their plans if management fails to increase their salaries. James Nyambari, the RVR general manager declined to comment on the matter when approached by URN.

He referred our reporter to Brown Ondego, the group CEO who neither picked nor returned calls from our reporter. Last December workers of RVR went on strike demanding a salary increment and payment of their arrears dating back to five months. RVR took over the concession to manage railway services in Uganda and Kenya in 2005. The consortium plans to manage railway services between Uganda and Kenya for 25 years. In July 2011, the company announced plans to start passenger railway services in and around Kampala.