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Tea workers on hunger strike threat over pay : The Standard

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Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union lawyer Mesherk Khisa (centre) joins tea farm workers in yesterday’s protest in Kericho town. [Nikko Tanui, Standard]

Workers in multinational tea farms have threatened to go on hunger strike if the firms do not sign a new pay deal with them.

They accused the firms of refusing to sign a new pay agreement for six years now and enslaving them.
Yesterday, the workers marched through Kericho streets before camping outside outside the Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA) offices where they left protest letters and placards.
The workers under the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) have been fighting to compel the tea companies to sign a Collective Bargaining Agreement with them since 2013.

SEE ALSO :Workers clash with tea firms over new rules

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They vowed not stop fighting for their rights until the multinationals grants them at least a 10 per cent salary increment. 
“Today is just a warning shot. In two weeks’ time, we will come back to the KTGA offices. We will not move out until we get the salary increment or die of hunger,” said KPAWU’s legal counsel, Mesherk Khisa.
“For the last six years, the workers have not had any salary increment. During the period, the cost of basic commodities has risen to more than a dollar, how are they expected to survive?” he said.
The union also protested the deployment of tea plucking machines by the companies saying these had rendered at least 3,000 workers redundant. 
“We cannot watch as the economy of a town such as Kericho is killed through the mass unemployment in the tea industry. Governors in tea growing counties must ban the use of tea plucking machines,” said Khisa. 
However, KTGA Chief Executive Officer Apollo Kiarii accused the worker’s union of using a ‘militant approach’ in demanding for a pay hike.
“All tea industry stakeholders must protect the industry. If we don’t, we will be pushing it to the South African way where unions were so militant and pushed for such high wages that at the end of the day tea production was no longer economically viable,” he said.
On mechanisation of tea industry, Kairi pointed out that it was not new in the country and in the world and that no one has lost a job after the introduction of tea harvesting machines.
“Mechanisation has been here since tea growing began. Not a single employee from commercial plantations has a lost a job because of mechanisation,” he said.

Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers UnionKenya Tea Growers Associationtea farms



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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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