By Luke Anami
Employers want the capacity of the Industrial Court strengthened to allow it to operate effectively following its elevation to similar status as the High Court.
Speaking during the launch of an employers’ manifesto, Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) Chief Executive Officer, Jacqueline Mugo also complained that the transition of the Industrial Court from the Ministry of Labour to the Judicial Service Commission was poorly handled by the Judiciary. She said proper structures should have been put in place before the move was effected.
She said the court lacks the mechanism to offer its services to counties. “The Industrial Court is crucial for harmonious industrial relations. But we want this court to be fully equipped with required facilities, research assistants, and clerks to enable it perform its role efficiently,” Mugo, who was accompanied at the press conference with FKE Chairman Erastus Mwongera and vice-chairman David Onyango, said.
Mugo said the facilities, including courtrooms, lacked modern equipment, which should be availed to enable the court prepare to roll out its services.
“Employers expect the Government to decentralise this court to take services closer to where they are needed to ensure efficient and effective disposal of industrial disputes.”
FKE also wants a quick solution to the current impasse in the Industrial Court, where four judges have taken Government to court allegedly for having illegally kicked them out of office, but have refused to hand over their files.
The affected judges include Justices Charles Chemututt, Paul Kipsang Kosgei, Steward Madzayo, and Edwin Mukunya. There status has been contentious.
The four have served as Industrial Court judges for many years, and were appointed under the Labour Institutions Act. The new Constitution provides for enactment of a law to set up courts to deal with labour and employment issues.
But FKE has faulted the manner the Government was handling the transition.
“Communication to judges during the transition could have been clearer. As a country we need to manage change better. We had pushed for vetting of judges, but it has not happened. The matter should quickly return to normalcy,” Mugo added.