Operations at Kenya's biggest port in Mombasa were paralyzed on Thursday after more than 3,000 casual workers went on strike demanding permanent employment.
The workers who embarked on a go-slow earlier on Thursday said the management failed to honor an agreement it entered with them in July to absorb them on permanent.
"We cannot allow the exploitation of workers. The management is not sincere in addressing their grievances," the workers union Secretary General Simon Sang said.
Sang said some of the workers, most of them in the terminal operations department, had worked for more than 15 years without change of terms.
The parties reached an agreement in June in which Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) agreed to absorb 3,168 contract workers to permanent and pensionable status and the affected category were to receive their new letters at the end of September
"They were supposed to be given permanent employment letters on Tuesday but is seems the management does not want to listen then," Sang told Xinhua in Mombasa.
"We have no choice other than to down our tools," said Joseph Masha, a loader at the KPA, adding that, "I am ready for any effectuality."
Hundreds of tonnes of cargo piled up at the port as the workers downed their tools leading to massive loss to shipping companies.
"We are enabling to discharge cargo from the ship imported from Japan due to the strike," Masha said near one the shipping company loaded with tonnes of motor vehicles after it docked on Thursday.
KPA Managing Director Francis Gichiri Ndua was said to be in a meeting with Transport Permanent Secretary Cyrus Njiru as the workers demonstrated at the KPA headquarters in Mombasa, waving banners.
Mombasa's Kilindini port facility is the best equipped on the East African coast being the second largest port in terms of tonnage and containers handled after Durban.
It serves the hinterland markets of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, South Sudan and Ethiopia.