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Kigezi Tea Workers on Strike Over Pay

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Patrick Besigye Keihwa, the Kabale LC V Chairman, says he is tired of complaints of non- payment by the workers of Kigezi Highland Tea Company. He has promised to intervene and ensure the workers are paid their wages soon.
Workers at Kabale District Headquarters

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More than 300 workers of Kigezi Highland Tea have staged a demonstration at Kabale District Headquarters protesting non-payment for the last seventeen months. Kigezi Highland Tea belongs to prominent business tycoon, James Garuga Musinguzi.

The workers converged at Rushoroza on Wednesday afternoon and led a procession through Kabale town before they pitched camp at the district headquarters demanding that the authorities prevails on Musinguzi to pay them. The striking workers were drawn from various tea plantations such as Kakabano in Nothern Division Kabale municipality, Kiniogo, Bushuro, Rushoroza, Keitankombe in Kitumba Sub County, Kitanga, Nyamarogo and Buhara in Buhara Sub County. 

The workers claim that they haven't received a single Shilling from January 18th 2016. Each worker is entitled to Shillings 5000 daily. Maritazari Barugahare, one of the concerned workers, says company hasn't given them any explanation for the none payment of their wages. Barugahare says they decided to lay down their tools and match to the district headquarters to show the leaders that they have a very serious problem. 

According to Barugahare, they want the district authorities to order Musinguzi to release their wages since they are the ones who allowed him to operate in the district. Prosper Ssalongo Niwagaba, another worker says he joined the company with high expectations of fending for his family but he can't even pay tuition for his children because of nonpayment.

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Claire Ninsiima, another worker says the company owes her more than Shillings 500,000. According to Ninsiima, they are tired of being deceived by management. She explains that most of the youth who were working at the company returned to school without being paid.

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Patrick Besigye Keihwa, the Kabale LC V Chairman, says he is tired of complaints of non- payment by the workers of Kigezi Highland Tea Company.  He has promised to intervene and ensure the workers are paid their wages soon.

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Rukiga

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Musinguzi blamed the delayed payment of his employees on government failure to release money in time. Kigezi Highland Tea  was contracted to run tea projects in Kigezi region on behalf of government. 

He called for patience from the workers, saying they will be paid before the end of June this year. This is not the first time workers of Kigezi Highland Tea Company are striking over pay.  In June 2015, over 100 workers attached to tea nurseries laid down their tools protesting non- payment for three years.

In May 2016, over 200 workers of the same company working in nursery beds also laid down their tools protesting nonpayment of their wages for seven months.

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