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Union in court to save 970 horticulture jobs

MONEY & CAREERS
By Daniel Chege | January 17th 2021

A union has moved to court to challenge the dismissal of 970 workers from a vegetable growing and export company in Naivasha.

The Kenya Export Floriculture, Horticulture and Allied Workers Union has sued Vegpro Company Limited, a horticultural company which owns Delamere Pivots and Gorge Farm, where the sacked employees worked.

In the suit before Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Hellen Wasilwa, the union wants the company's action of dismissing the staff to be declared unprocedural, unfair and wrongful.

"The court be pleased to order the reinstatement of the employees to their former respective employment status from June 4, 2019 without loss of all benefits,” reads the suit.

Court documents show that the sacked workers were employed on permanent terms and had worked for between two and 15 years on the farms.

According to the union, the workers had downed their tools on November 1, 2018 after the company backed out of negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that covered the two farms, and disregarded the advice of an arbitrator on how to resolve the matter.

"A dispute emanated between the parties and was taken to a conciliator who advised the parties to proceed and conclude the negotiations for the CBA,” reads the suit.

The union then went to court seeking orders to stop the company from taking disciplinary action against the striking employees. On July 4, 2019, a judge called off the strike and ordered the negotiations to proceed.

"However, the workers who were advised to report back to work were denied access to the two premises without justification from the company," says the union.

The case will be heard on January 26.

This story has been updated to indicate that Vegpro is a horticultural concern but not a floricultural one -Editor

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