Over 200 employees of Diani Reef Beach Resort in Kwale County staged protests outside the facility on Sunday over salary delays amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The protesters vowed not to leave the hotel premises which was closed last week due to the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic.
The protesters’ representative, David Mulai said they have not been paid their March salaries and benefits.
He said the hotel owed each of the workers about Sh.160, 000 in salary arears which they had been promised that they would be paid before the hotel stopped operations.
He claimed that the top management has resorted to empty promises and blackmail instead of explaining the situation of non-payment of their salaries.
“We were sent home on Thursday without salaries and the management has not addressed the issue even as they shut the facility,” he said.
Mulai said the hotel is taking advantage of COVID-19 to deprive workers’ of their rights.
He said various other hotel employees were sorted out before being sent home and hotels closed down.
The employees said they deserved to have their money under all circumstances because they sweated for it.
“We are not begging, we worked for the month of March and they must pay us,” he said.
Another protester, Mwanakombo Hamadi said the management had promised to solve the problem by latest March 31 which never happened.
She said hotels have been operating well since February before the coronavirus outbreak and they have no reason to withhold staffs’ salaries.
Hamadi said they now need the money more than ever before because people were being advised to stay at home.
“At this particular time of stay at home orders, we will not be able to survive without money in our pockets and diseases are taking away our jobs,” she said.
The Kwale County Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied workers (KUDHEIHA) Secretary, Francis Omondi said they would take the matter up with the management.
He wants COTU Secretary-general Francis Atwoli to intervene and help workers find justice.
Contacted for comment, the Diani Hotel Manager, Jotham Mwang’ombe denied that they refused to pay the workers.
Mwang’ombe said the employees were in disagreement over the 50% salary deductions as a way of helping fight against coronavirus disease.
The hotel manager said he was shocked as to why the staff have refused to take pay cuts since the hotel was operating below capacity for the last two months.
On his part, Governor Salim Mvurya promised to initiate talks between the staff and the management with a view to resolving the stalemate.
Meanwhile, Kwale department of health has received a boost in the fight against infection of covid-19 from the Kenya Progressive Nurses Association (KPNA).
The association has donated receivers, buckets and soaps which would be distributed to different centres in the county.
Mvurya welcomed the donations and urged more well-wishers to join the county in fighting the coronavirus disease.
By Hussein Abdullahi