Employees of Choppies Supermarket want the retailer to pay Sh25 million to 543 employees declared redundant, complicating the Botswana retailer’s exit from the Kenyan market.
According to court filings, the Kenya Union of Commercial, Food and Allied Workers (KUCFAW) further wants the Employment and Labour Relations Court to seize travel documents of Choppies’ directors to prevent them from leaving the country while the legal dispute continues.
“Pending hearing and determination of this matter, this court do and hereby order the respondents herein to pay redundancy benefits to 543 employees amounting to Sh26.8 million owing to employees declared redundant in a joint interest account or in court to be accessed by the redundant employees should they be successful in this suit,” states the orders obtained by the workers union.
The case that is scheduled for January 27 now complicates the retailer’s exit from the Kenyan market after years of struggling to grow in the challenging retail sector.
In 2015, Choppies acquired Ukwala Supermarkets for Sh1 billion as part of its expansion plan across East Africa in a transaction that was anticipated to breathe new life in the local retail sector, at the time reeling from the fall of Nakumatt and Uchumi supermarkets.
The retailer however announced this month it was closing its 12 stores in Kenya due to liquidity challenges that also affected operations in Mozambique and Tanzania.
According to court filings, Choppies served a redundancy notice to 188 employees in August 2019 and last month served another one to 543 staff.