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NFRA strike risks worsening hunger

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Plans by the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to buy maize worth K729 million (about $1 million) risk derailing following a strike by workers at the agency.

The workers yesterday commenced the industrial action in an attempt to force the agency’s management to respond to their concerns over implementation of a request to review their perks.

The review, according to the workers, was last conducted in 2012.

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Some workers who talked on condition of anonymity, said recommendations from the 2012 review was implemented in 2015 with only 10 percent without considering accumulated increments since 2012.

“They only gave us a 10 percent plus a government increment of 15 percent making it 25 percent. They did not include other increments which accumulated from the time of the review,” they said.

The strike already affected buying of maize from various traders whose motor vehicles have formed long queues, in a long wait to sell their produce.

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According to the workers, they also want the authorities to review their salaries and realign them with structures in other parastatals.

The disgruntled workers claim that they wrote the authorities several times as follow ups to their concerns but their efforts proved futile as authorities chose to stay mum on the matter.

In a letter written to their Chief Executive Officer, Nasinuku Saukira, dated August 30, 2016, the workers noted that in the absence of any responses from top bosses, it was clear to them that management does not have any interest on their concerns.

“We regret to inform you that we will have no option but to stay away from work until the functional review is implemented and notify relevant government authorities as to why we are staying away from work,” reads part of the statement

The workers have since vowed not to resume work until the matter is resolved.

In an interview, Saukira, said the two parties have been engaged in dialogue since the emergence of the matter and believe that government will come to their rescue.

“We appreciate their concerns knowing how long the matter has been in the pipeline but we pleaded with them to wait for a short period of time, as we believe we are almost there. The unfortunate part is that as NFRA, we cannot decide, it has to be done somewhere in government,” he said.

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