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Court blocks County Government from sacking 238 casual workers

COUNTIES
By Nderitu Gichure | December 15th 2015

A court yesterday stopped the county government from sacking 238 casual workers.

The Employment and Labour Relations Court termed the decision by the county government to terminate the workers’ employment as unlawful, irreparable and a violation of their Constitutional rights under Article 41.

Justice Byram Ongaya further restrained and prohibited the county government (respondent) from employing or replacing them with others to work in the same position or undertake similar work.

“I do issue an injunction against the county government from dismissing or terminating the petitioners’ employment without following the law and their terms and conditions of employment,” the judge added.

Similar petition

Ongaya noted that the respondent had violated the workers’ right to fair labour practices, namely; reasonable working conditions including permanent terms and condition of service as stipulated under Article 41.

He said the conversion of term of services for the petitioner should be consistent with the Employment Act 2007.

 Ongaya noted that on diverse dates, the respondent assigned duties of a permanent nature to the employees and proceeded to seek employment on permanent basis.

“Despite demands to place them on permanent terms and condition of service, the county government failed to do so,” Ongaya stated.

He observed that most of the employees had worked for longer period, with some serving for more than 15 years, adding that they were entitled to permanent terms of service.

Ongaya criticised the county government for trying to terminate the workers’ employment on the basis of being casuals, yet they were paid at the end of the month as opposed to being paid on daily basis.

“These workers have inherent dignity, which should be respected and protected. Removing them from employment without a good reason would be contravention of this dignity,” he added.

In the petition filed through lawyer Brian Otieno, the workers had sued the county government and the county Public Service Board for violating their rights.

Lawyer Wahome Gikonyo, who represented the county government, submitted that the petition was not maintainable and was an abuse of court process.

He said the same workers had in 2013 filed a similar petition, which was still before the court, adding it was not right for the parties to engage in multiple suits meant to obstruct justice.

“The petition amounts to sub-judice as demonstrated by cause 31 of 2013 and should be struck out,” Gikonyo said.

The judge, however, observed that cause 31 was instituted by employees in individual capacity, while the current case was filed by a union as an autonomous legal entity.

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