Kenya Tea Development Agency-affiliate factory taken to court

by Wakili Liam
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Workers picking tea using an automated machine

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) partner Githambo Tea Factory has been taken to court for unfair dismissal.

The tea factory based in Muranga County is accused of of unlawfully terminating the employment of 13 workers

In an application before Justice Njagi Marete of the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nyeri, the petitioners, through the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (Kpawu), say the factory’s administration fired them without notice.

They want their former employer compelled to reinstate them unconditionally.

They have also requested Justice Marete to order the respondent to pay them salaries from the time they were dismissed in August 2020.

They have also sought for house allowance until the time the court delivers judgment on the case.

“The respondent should also include pay for our leave days that will be due at the time of reinstatement,” say the petitioners through lawyer Lucy Mwai.

The petitioners, who worked as logistics assistants at the Githambo tea buying centre, were sacked on August 20, 2020 following a special audit carried out by the management.

Ms Mwai says that according to the audit conducted by the factory’s unit manager, the petitioners had been registering false weights of the bags of tea leaves brought in by the farmers.

The audit also showed that they made illegal duplicated readings on some of the bags on various dates between the months of February and March 2020.

Following the conclusion of the investigations, all the logistics assistants at the buying centre were issued with show cause letters and summoned before the disciplinary committee.

During the hearing, the petitioners requested that they be represented by their union secretary but the factory’s administration declined the request.

After the disciplinary hearing, they were summarily dismissed.

A witness statement written by Mr Daniel Mwangi, one of the petitioners, showed that for the six years he had worked at the factory, he had no record of indiscipline whatsoever with the management.

In his statement, he alleges that the termination was malicious and unfair.

“The respondent did not notify us about the disciplinary hearing in good time for us to prepare and put forward our defence,” he says.

After they were laid off, the Ministry of Labour appointed an arbitrator for the two parties.

The conciliator recommended that the factory’s management provides each of the petitioners’ taxations, deductions for years worked, leave days, arrears and other dues as per the collective bargaining agreement.

“But the respondent has since refused to provide the documents as recommended by the conciliator,” said Mr Mwangi.

The case continues today, June 21, 2020.

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