An expose appearing on the Standard newspaper (dated July 8, 2018) titled Exclusive: Behind The SGR Walls paints a gloomy picture of racism and neo-colonialism meted on Kenyans working on the Standard Gauge Railways (SGR) by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC). The Chinese, the story goes; don’t share tables at their restaurant with their Kenyan counterpart. The level of discrimination is so high that Kenyans are not allowed to use staff vans while the Chinese are on board during drop-off. While the SGR is generally fluidly and professionally run, it is the how CRBC treat Kenyan workers that has caused furor. Salary, which forms the backbone of this article, is also skewed in favor of the Chinese. So how much does CRBC pay Kenyans?
Kenyan cleaners take home between kes15,000 and kes18,000 per month. This amount is determined by CRBC which will run and maintain the equipment and rail tracks for a period of 10 years in a deal that was signed in June 2017. Chinese, in the same cadre, are paid kes2,000 daily translating kes60,000 per month.
Freight Technicians and Inspectors
Like workers on the lower cadre, freight technicians and inspectors are not paid any better. According to reports on the same publication, Kenyans in these cadres are paid kes37,000 per month while their Chinese counterparts pocket kes148,000. A worker shared this with the publication: “We are still referred to as trainees despite more than one year working in the field. The Chinese whom we work with in the same capacity only need two weeks of the same training and they are graduated to expert level.”
This group is paid kshs84 per hour which translates to kes16,128 assuming they work for 6 days per week. The contract reads in part: “Your salary will be paid monthly on the basis of Sh84 per hour. Holidays, vacations, time offs and other related benefits will be in accordance with the company policy as explained by your supervisor. “The salary and benefits may change from time to time without affecting the other terms of your employment.”
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Workers constructing the SGR have held demonstrations more than once to agitate for better pay. Machine operators are paid sh650, while drivers and casual labourers take home kes650 and kes400 a day respectively.
SGR Stewards and stewardesses
These workers are paid about kes30,000.
The 40 plus trained Kenyan locomotive drivers are paid way less than Chinese cleaners. According to the Nairobian, the Chinese cleaners take home two to three times what Kenyan drivers are paid. A quick math puts their salary at a paltry kes49,000 with the highest receiving kes74,000. The Kenyans train drivers have been reduced to spectators as they are not allowed near the controls which have been configured in Chinese. Next
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