Airtel-Telkom merger runs into headwinds

The merger between Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya has run into headwinds after a group of former employees asked the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to block it.

With less than a week to go, 52 ex-workers of Airtel Kenya have written to the regulator asking it to stop the consolidation process until their grievances are settled. 

The former workers have a pending case in court in which they are demanding Sh1 billion from Airtel for unfair termination.

"It is instructive to note that the merger is a cleverly veiled attempt to ensure that our clients are denied the fruits of what might be a favourable judgment,” reads the letter to the CA.

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They want the merger stopped until Airtel gives an undertaking that the new entity will take up the liability.

The workers, who were laid off as part of the cash-strapped telco’s restructuring process but insist that the merger is being carried out in a “clandestine” manner and it is strategically structured and implemented to deny them access “to the potential fruits of their claims in the court of law.”

CA, in a Gazette notice, had given anyone opposed to the merger until August 12, failure to which it would approve the marriage between the two firms that will form a new operator to be known as Airtel-Telkom.

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But with less than a week to go, the jilted workers might have thrown the spanner into the works.

Through their lawyers, Okatch and Partners Advocates, the workers fear that Airtel might throw them under the bus if the merger goes on unchallenged.

SEE ALSO :Airtel rolls out no-expiry data rates

"Information regarding the merger is scanty as it is being released very economically and strategically by parties therein such as that our clients are left confused as to the impact will have on their claim,” said the lawyers, noting that their clients’ attempt to have Airtel furnish them with the information has not been successful.

They also say they were rattled by a Gazette notice by Telkom Kenya, which stipulated that the new entity would not assume any liabilities for the entities merging.

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Airtel KenyaTelkom KenyaMergerCommunications Authority