Over 300 workers at Kigezi Highland Tea in Kabale district today broke into protest over unpaid wages for the last seventeen months. Kigezi Highland Tea belongs to business mogul James Musinguzi Garuga. The company among others also provides tea seedlings to local farmers under the NAADS program.
Some of their colleagues who failed to work without pay left in September last year and went to do other jobs. Every worker is entitled to Shs. 5000 per day.
Those protesting have been working at the company’s nursery beds in Ndorwa county, Rukiga county and Kabale municipality in Kabale district.
The supervisor of seed plantations in Kiniogo, Rushoroza, Makanga, Bushuro and Keitankombe, Mr. Prosper Niwagaba Salongo says they are owed over 30 million shillings and that every time they raise the issue of payment they are told by management that government hasn’t paid the company.
He says they tried to involve the office of the Kabale District Labor Officer to secure their wages but nothing has been done.
The workers also accuse the management of importing workers from Kanungu district to harvest tea in their area, who receive their due payment every day.
The angry workers were calmed down by Patrick Besigye Keihwa, the Kabale District Chairperson. Keihwa says he was growing weary of the endless workers’ protests at the company.
The Chairman told the workers at his office that in a recent stakeholders meeting with President Yoweri Museveni, it was agreed that NAADs pays Garuga in June and he also pays his workers.
He therefore asked the workers to be a little more patient.
When our reporter contacted the director of Kigezi Highland Tea, James Garuga Musinguzi, he told us he was that waiting upon to pay him in the starting month, adding that there was no way he would borrow money to pay workers.