One out of 40,000, farm workers in Naivasha
Step 4 of 4
My name is Grace, and I work six days a week in a greenhouse on a flower farm in Naivasha. After leaving secondary school six years ago, I moved from my home in Western Kenya to Naivasha to find work. At first I lived with a cousin. After I had found a job as a "general worker" and met my husband there, I have been living together with him and our two children in a settlement very close to the farm, where we both work.
This chart shows how a large part of the population depends on the flower industry*
* Results of a survey in various settlements
Originally, I come from Western Kenya. After my graduation I couldn’t find a job and my parents weren’t able to pay for further education. My cousin was living in Naivasha and told me about a vacancy at the farm she was working on. After six months I was given a permanent contract and now I have been working in Naivasha for six years. Originally, I had only planned to save some money and then return home, but when I met my husband, I changed my plans. Now we have two small children to care for. That is why we need to continue working on the farm.
Migrant labourers in Naivasha often use the word "hustling" when describing their economic situation. They can get by, but it’s a daily struggle. Flower farm workers can increase their meagre incomes, for example by working overtime (paid 1.5 times the normal hourly rate) or by carrying on a small-scale business in the early evening hours:
On my weekly day off, I take the bus to Naivasha town to go to the market. I buy vegetables there with a part of the salary from my job in a flower farm. I then sell these vegetables after work between 4 PM and 6 PM, in the settlement where we live. I make a little profit with this, and this is how I pay for my children’s school fees.
VIEW OF ONE OF THE NUMEROUS INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS
Some workers live on the farms where they work, but many live in informal settlements. These settlements have schools and hospitals, but they often lack basic infrastructure such as a functioning water supply, or a sewage system. Many migrants don’t invest a lot in Naivasha, as they plan to return to their home regions when they retire, at the latest. Therefore, many people merely try to manage as best they can in these adverse conditions.
More and more farm workers are members of the trade union KPAWU. The great advantage is that the working conditions are negotiated collectively and are relatively good compared to non-unionized farm workers.
Some examples from the 2013 collective agreement:
|Basic monthly wage
(dependent on experience; excluding overtime, bonuses)
|5.401 – 10.252 KES*
(45 – 86 EUR)
|Monthly rental subsidy||1.700 KES** (14,30 EUR)|
|Annual travel grant||2.500 KES (21 EUR)|
|Paid vacation days||24 days|
|Paid maternity leave||3 months|
|Overtime||1.5 times the normal hourly wage|
* Exchange rate of 31.12.2013: 1 KES (Kenyan Shilling = 0.0084 EUR)
** An acceptable 1-room-apartment that is often inhabited by a whole family, costs about 2.000 KES per month.
The work is hard, the pay low. But it is a relatively safe income that is sufficient for our living conditions.
In the Summary, you will learn about the connection between the Kenyan worker Grace, the flower farmers and the other actors presented.