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Kenya Ferry Services bosses jailed over dock workers pay rise order

By Joackim Bwana | September 26th 2015

MOMBASA: The Industrial Court in Mombasa has sentenced Kenya Ferry Services chief executive officer Musa Hassan and human resource manager Thomas Tuva Kenga to five months in jail for disobeying a court order.

Hassan and Kenga were found guilty of dishonouring an order awarding a 20 per cent salary increase to dock workers. The Dock Workers Union (DWU) had sued for contempt with regard to the increment ordered by the court on May 22, when the workers won a case in which they sought a raise.

Friday, Justice James Rika accused the Government of promoting impunity by disobeying court orders on pay increases. He also accused the Government of attempting to use courts to halt workers' strikes after failing to honour its obligations.

"The Government seems to think the role of the court is to stop strikes emanating from its inability to meet its wage obligations," the judge said.

He added that by refusing to implement an order for salary increment after the court suspended a strike by ferry workers, KFS was inviting labour unrest.

Hassan and Kenga, who is also the KFS administration manager, were accused of failing to adjust and implement the wages of members of the Dock Workers Union as awarded by the court. But they were not clapped in jail immediately after yesterday's ruling. The judge suspended the sentence for a month to allow them "purge the contempt" by obeying the court order.

The court had awarded a 20 per cent pay increase, with arrears for 2013 and 2014 in July, and 2014 and 2015 in December.

The court's order had averted the strike at the ferry, which is an essential facility, and proceeded to hear the dispute on an accelerated basis, culminating in the award.

On August 10, the union moved to court, accusing the KFS through its officials of failing to implement the award as ordered by the court.

Friday, Justice Rika said parties could file affidavits explaining any changes in the implementation of the award before the next court session.

The two officials are expected to appear in court for mention and any subsequent date until discharged by the court.

DWU secretary general Simon Sang, representing the workers, had asked that the two bosses be fined Sh2 million for contempt, and jailed for a period not exceeding six months with an alternative fine of Sh500,000 each.

Musa and Kenga said they required the approval of the ministry to implement the pay increment.

However, the judge pointed out: "The directors had proposed a 20 per cent pay increment before the award and the budget speech was read in June 2015, therefore the claimant must have budgeted well in advance."

The judge said there was no reason why the claimants should disregard the lawful orders made by the court. He said Kenga was properly cited for contempt as he wrote a letter impeding the decision of the court.

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