Folly of quitting job for elusive greener pastures

A meadow symmetrically cut with one side flourishing and green and the other withering and dying symbolising the saying greener pastures on a blue sky background. [iStock Photo]

Issa Mbwana resigned from his job at DHL Supply Chain where he worked as a plant operator following a promise of a lucrative job in Congo in 2016.

The recruiter was a company named Crosslink Services Limited.

They claimed to offer USD 400 (approximately Sh58,800 a month at the current exchange rate) and an assurance that the money would be released once the firm was paid by the United Nations.

The court heard that all that was required for him and 13 others were to foot all their expenses to Congo, which they claimed would be refunded upon arrival.

Mbwana and the others lost their jobs. They have also lost a case against Crosslink and its director Sam Odera.

Others who sued are Mildred Ochieng, Eric Musee, Modesta Mwita, Austine Ndolo, Ibrahim Daudi, Bernard Mutisya, Lennet Oyalo, Godfrey Maase, Zakaria Juma, Asha Changawa, Martha Wangui and Evans Bosire.

Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) Judge Nduma Nderi said that although he sympathised with the 14, they failed to properly investigate the offer given to them before they accepted.

“The court finds that the claimants did not carry out proper due diligence before they offered themselves for employment in the Congo. The court notes that the claimants had indeed forfeited good jobs in Kenya in search of greener pastures,”said Justice Nderi.

“What befell the claimants was largely their own doing having failed to properly investigate the viability and requirements of the offers they took up with the respondent,” the judge added.

In their case, they argued that they were informed by Odera that since Crosslink had not been paid by the UN, they would be reimbursed the money they used for travel.

Upon arrival, Mbwana said that their expenses were not refunded and there was no proper accommodation. They also claimed that they had no food or money to cater for the basic needs.

The 14 alleged that Odera convinced them that things would change as soon as the UN paid the respondents.

Mbwana who was the star witness in the case told the court that he stayed in Congo for four months. He however conceded that they did not get work permits to allow them to work in Congo.

He also told the court that they were unaware who the directors of Crosslink were. According to them, Odera was their employer.

The court also heard that there was no written agreement that the 14 would get their travel fees.

At the same time, Mbwana told the court that they were unaware that the visas they were issued with were canceled but asserted that they did not commit any crime in Congo.

According to them, they were given facilitation fees to return to Kenya with a promise they would be brought back.

Odera told the court that he is Crosslink’s director. He however denied that he employed the 14.

In his response, he stated that none of them went to Congo at their own expenses as alleged.

Odera claimed that they did not work diligently as two were kicked out of Congo for crime while the rest were unable to produce documents for visa application.

He alleged that they were returned to Kenya for failing to produce the documents required for visa application.

Odera also claimed that other two absconded duties within the first month of their arrival in Congo. He alleged that they were all paid their salaries before they left Congo.

Odera said that each signed for a USD 400 contract. He noted that they reported to DRC on February 25, 2016, and their last pay was on June 30, 2016.

Odera also told the court that he never hired the 14 in his own capacity, instead, they were hired by Crosslink Services Rwanda Limited.  

He argued that the firm is different and he is not a director.

After hearing rival arguments, Justice Nderi said that it was clear that they were hired by Crosslink Services Kenya.

“The evidence by RW1 that the claimants were employed by Crosslink Services Rwanda, is not supported by any tangible evidence and lacks merit,” he ruled.

Nevertheless, the Judge said that the 14 did not counter Odera’s argument that they were paid and signed up for their salaries up to June 30, 2016.

On the travel expenses, the Judge said that they also did not prove the same as there was no agreement to reimburse them.

He also said that there was evidence that the contracts were validly terminated as they had no legal documents to remain and work in Congo.

Justice Nderi was of the view that Crosslink needs to obtain authorisation for persons recruited from Kenya to enable them work in their destination.

“It is wrong for the first respondent even as an agent of the second respondent to cause people to relocate to another country without assurance that they would obtain valid work permits,” said Justice Nderi.