Masindi, Uganda | URN | Masindi based sugar producer, Kinyara Sugar Limited, has spoken out for the first time detailing the circumstances under which one of the cane cutters was allegedly shot dead during a protest over delayed payment.
Richard Wanok, the company’s communication manager said they are saddened about the occurrence and commensurate with the family.
He, however, said there has been misrepresentation about payment between cane cutters and their employer, the harvesting cane provider. He did not disclose the service provider.
“It is important to note that we have two sets of cane harvesting providers with different payment dates given the variations in crop cycle. The first set is paid within seven days after the closure of the master roll on the 23rd day of every month whereas the second is paid within the seven days after the closure of the master roll on the 3rd Friday of every month,” he said.
“Now these payment schedules are a usual practice and have been operational for while without any issues. The service provider employees’ involved in the strike are part of the first set prior mentioned and their payment due date had not been reached,” he added.
Wanok said the actual cause of the strike is still unknown as the police is still carrying out the investigations.
“Conversely, we continue to engage with our service providers as a means to curb such unfortunate instances,” Wanok added.
Reports indicate that one person only identified as Rizfork, a cane cutter belonging to a service provider for Kinyara Sugar Ltd was shot dead during a protest in Kibamba village, Pakanyi sub-county, Masindi district on Sept.25.
It is alleged that 200 cane cutters who had been deployed to harvest sugarcane in Kimbamba village, Kyakamese parish staged a violent strike after delayed payment of their wages by their employer. Each cane cutter is entitled to Shillings 5,000 per day.
However, a cane cutter who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity, explained that they have not received their payment for the last two months, a claim that could not be verified.
Julius Hakiza, the Albertine Region police spokesperson said when police arrived, the cane cutters turned very chaotic and started pelting the officers with stones.
He said the protesters allegedly attacked police officers and grabbed one of the motorcycles registration Number UP 3127 belonging to Kabarogota police post and set it ablaze, prompting the anti-riot police to start firing live bullets in the air to disperse the rowdy cane cutters. It is a result of this that a stray bullet hit Rizfork in the chest killing him instantly.
This is not the first time cane cutters in Kinyara Sugar Limited are striking overpay. More than 600 cane cutters went into a sit down strike to protest low wages in 2011.
In December 2011, more than 600 cane cutters staged a sit-down strike to protest poor wages. The workers demanded an increase in their wages.