Court bars tea firms from sacking tea pickers

Evelyn Kwamboka

The Industrial Court has extended orders barring employers in the tea industry from sacking their unionisable employees.

The orders also stopping Unilever and Eastern Produce Kenya Limited from locking out or evicting union members from their residential houses, is valid until Monday when the case will be heard.

Justice Stewart Madzayo said this Thursday when the case filed by the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union came up for hearing.

It was adjourned to Monday, when parties will decide on whether to hear the case or an application filed by the employers to have the orders granted on October 21 set aside.

Those sued in the case are Kenya Tea Outgrowers Association, Unilever Tea Kenya Limited and Eastern Produce Kenya Limited.

In its application filed at the Industrial Court registry, KTGA claims the union obtained the orders after the High Court had barred workers from downing their tools.

Lady Justice Jeanne Gacheche issued the High Court orders on October 14 before the workers went on strike or moved to the Industrial Court.

It wants the court to set aside orders barring it from dismissing the workers on grounds that the union did not disclose to the Industrial Court, the High Court had barred the employees from going on strike.

In his affidavit, KTGA’s executive committee member, Mr Simeon Hutchinson, the union moved to the Industrial Court with full knowledge of Lady Justice Gacheche’s orders.

The union on its part claims the respondent is using police to intimidate employees in the union for participating in the strike and have threatened to sack them.