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Thousands stare at job losses as timber firms start lay-offs

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By WYCLIFF KIPSANG
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A dispute is looming over plans by timber manufacturers in Western Kenya to lay off thousands of workers as the effect of a logging ban begins to be felt.

The most affected is Rai Plywoods (Kenya) Ltd, Eldoret, where most workers have been notified of massive job losses while hundreds of others have been retired.

A letter from the company seen by Nation notifies the affected workers to prepare for retirement.

“This is to inform you that you will be retired from November 24, 2018. Your terminal dues will be paid after clearance,” reads the letter by the company’s human resource manager, Mr Joachim Kimoja.

However, some workers who have been retired have complained of not being paid their dues many months after losing their jobs.

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“We are not against retirement, but the proper procedures should be followed. We are unable to provide for our families. Many risk being evicted from their rental houses,” said Mr Richard Otieno, a retiree.

The workers union chief shop steward, Mr Christopher Oyier, said: “Many workers have been put on notice by saccos and banks for loans which have started attracting penalties”.

The company has defended itself, saying their operations have been slowed down by the ban and laying off some of their workers is the only solution.

Sources said the company may be forced to shut down its plywood plant.

The Timber Manufacturers Association said the ban on logging in public forests has thrown the timber industry into disarray.

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