By Mercy Atieno
Domestic managers are now calling upon the Government through the Ministry of Labour and social services to fully implement labor laws that are aimed at protecting them from continued harassment and unfair job dismissal by their employers
The domestic managers have cited poor working conditions sexual harassment and lack of salaries as part of the daily challenges they are forced to endure.
Grace Anyango Anapapa a single mother and a resident of Eldoret town in uasin gishu county recounts her experience in the hands of her former employer a who was employed and a legal practitioner who despite working for in the last 13 years unfairly dismissed without notice and denied all her dues.
“I have been working for a certain prominent city lawyer in Eldoret but despite working for him for over thirteen years as a committed house help and doubling up as a night guard at his home, he has since refused to pay me and has intimidated me since he understands I have no money to seek legal services I am left helpless,” said Anapapa.
Anapapa who has been fighting for her dues in order to enable her children to remain in school says despite visiting various government offices she has had no help and no lawyer was willing to represent her in court as she has no legal fees.
“I am tired but I haven’t given up fighting for what is rightfully mine ,they did not pay my overtime for the thirteen years I worked for them even as a night guard , I have reported the matter to the turbo sub county labor offices but nothing has been done I am afraid my children will have to drop from school ,as you can see I am sickly I have no more energy left to work as a domestic manager ,my son who is in secondary school has been forced to work at a construction site to raise his own school fees it pains me but what do I do,” she said.
“I want my overtime money , I did both works as house girl and watchman for 13 years, and they owe me over 800, 000 Kenya shillings , I have endured hell in their house I constantly live on medication I developed high blood pressure I need my money but since I am a common person they lawyer has decided to overlook my basic rights’ Paused Anapapa.
The situation is the same for many Domestic house managers. Not far away from Anpapas home is Elizabeth Wairimu. For over ten years she worked for her employer without pay and was dismissed even without notice.
“As house helps we are going through a lot of challenges , our normal day begins at 3:00am we work the entire day without rest , we are not allowed to eat the food we cook for our employers and our families sometimes we are left without any food what domestic managers are going through is modern day slavery with total disregard of the labor laws of this country,” said Elizabeth.
She confirms her salary was only Sh6,000 money that could not cater for her needs.
“Our employers even don’t pay remit for our National Social Security Fund (NSSF), National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and even when we fall ill we are supposed to work , no sick leave , the working conditions are terrible at times many house helps are raped but cannot speak out just to save the only job they have , i am now suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure just like many domestic managers in this country,” Says Wairimu.
Central organization of trade unions (COTU) Uasin Gishu chapter Chairman, Peter Odima says cases of domestic managers being mistreated and going for years without pay are rampant; however labor officers have failed to ensure the implementation of the Labor laws in Kenya many sit in offices just to earn a salary.
“We have received information about the two cases of domestic managers whose rights have been violated and we have started an investigation to ensure that they get justice. It’s against the Labor laws and the Constitution of Kenya for any employer to fail to adhere to the minimum wage for any worker in Kenya, currently the minimum pay for domestic managers should be sixteen thousand Kenya shillings,” Odima said.
He further blamed the Director of Public prosecution for taking away the power of prosecution from the labor officers.
“Since the Director of Public Prosecution took prosecutorial powers from the Ministry of labor it has been hard for labor officers to take cases to court directly, the powers should be taken back to labor officers for them to prosecute employers who don’t pay according to the law, many employers have taken advantage of the situation to undermine the rights of workers” he said,.
Rogers Ombati a human rights activist with the the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers.(KUDHEIHA) says “We will work with labor and county officers to ensure that they are paid their dues, overtime and holiday as is required by law,I think it’s about time the rights of Kenya workers including the domestic managers are upheld,”Noted Ombati
Ombati says all domestic managers should ensure that they sign a contractual agreement with their employers, this will ensure their rights are upheld an incase of a violation of their rights the courts will intervene with ease
Efforts to reach out to the Uasingishu County labor officer Caroline Chemusoi have had no fruits ,Many employees in Uasin Gishu claiming the officer who has for the last ten years been at the same station could be colluding with their employers hence the continued cases of the violations of workers’ rights in Uasin Gishu.