Uchumi workers protest pay delay

Employees of troubled Uchumi Supermarket yesterday protested a delay in payment of salary. The employees who claim they have not been paid their two months salary despite the government’s Sh700 million bailout to the retailer.

The move by employees meant some shops operated with bare minimum staff as some workers marched from Uchumi Jogoo road branch to the company headquarters in industrial area to seek audience with the management over the delayed salaries. Uchumi had promised a resurgence after getting government bailout in December but the protests now puts management on the spot.

The retailer’s losses widened by 63.5 per cent to Sh895.2 million for six months to December, 2017 after a sharp drop in sales in the wake of closure of some branches. This led net sales to drop by Sh526.9 million, a 71.4 per cent drop from a turnover of Sh1.85 billion recorded the previous year. For the supermarket chain which is in the market for a strategic investor, the unrest will definitely not augur well for it since it is banking on capital injection to get out of turbulence.

The retailer hopes an investor will inject about Sh3.5 billion to support countrywide operations. The government has also not released the full Sh1.8 billion bailout because the retailer has not met certain conditions, having received Sh500 million in January and Sh700 million in December last year, a total of Sh1.2 billion. The protests coincide with the firm’s annual general meeting which is slated for today in Nairobi.

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