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Tea pickers lose case seeking to compel James Finlay to release medical records

By Kamau Muthoni | October 1st 2021

A tea plucking machine at a tea farm in Kericho County. [Nikko Tanui, Standard]

The Labour court has dismissed a second case by tea pickers, seeking to compel James Finlay Kenya to release their medical records to be used as evidence in a UK court.

Justice Hellen Wasilwa dismissed the case filed by Elly Okong’o, Lucas Onduso, Vitalis Otieno, Rebecca Okenyuri, Joice Mongere, Christopher Omwamba and Getune Sasela, citing duplicity of cases.

According to the judge, there was a similar case in 2019, which is now before the Court of Appeal. She ruled that the seven petitioners had abused the court process.

“The petitioners were aggrieved by the Judgment and orders in ELRC Petition No. 30 of 2019 and lodged an appeal at the Court of Appeal.  This appeal is still pending.  The Petitioner is my view is seeking similar information in the current petition which information is already barred by the Hon. Judge in Petition 30 of 2019,” said Justice Wasilwa.

The seven wrote to Finlay on July 4, 2019, and November 4, 2019, requesting the firm to release to them specific information concerning the work conditions that its workers have been subjected to over the years.

According to the judge, there was a similar case in 2019, which is now before the Court of Appeal. [Courtesy]

Their interest was on Tiluet, Marinyn, Kaporet and Kapsongoi Kitcumbe tea factories that are owned by multinational firm. Finlay roots are in Glasgow and was started back in 18th century.

In the UK, the tea workers are seeking £15,000 (Sh 2.3 million) each in the All Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court in Edinburgh. They argue that they suffered both mental and physical injuries.

They relied on an order by a Scottish Court, which made the order for the production of information on November 22, 2018.

The Scottish court amended its order and allowed them to visit and inspect Finlay’s tea estates and factories.

“What the petitioners are seeking to access is in furtherance of their cases filed in the Scottish Court and that the information sought is necessary for the petitioners exercise of their constitutional right to the highest attainable standard of health,” the workers argued. 

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