Companies

Ex-Kenya Power staff lose in Sh3.4bn claim

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The Cabinet has ordered a split of Kenya’s electricity transmission system to ensure that a power failure in one part does not affect the whole country. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The court has dismissed a Sh3.4 billion claim against Kenya Power by former employees of the electricity distributor.

Justice Nelson Jorum said the company had suffered losses between 1998 and 2003 as a result of the prolonged drought that had made power generation difficult, necessitating cutting of costs.

He found that the redundancy of the workers was justifiable and that the due process of the law was followed.

“The court has considered the facts and circumstances of this dispute and based on the findings made in respect of the reasons and the process of the redundancy herein and is not persuaded that the claimants have sufficiently demonstrated that the respondent knowingly misrepresented or concealed any material fact to them in this particular matter to constitute fraud,” said the court.

Read: Kenya Power seeks increase of electricity prices by up to 78pc

Between June 2001 and March 2002, the applicants’ service with Kenya Power was terminated in a retrenchment exercise prompting them to file a suit in court in 2003. However, the suit only proceeded to a hearing on March 18 last year.

The former employees sought, among other things, Sh1 billion in lost allowances and Sh2.2 billion which they said was illegally deducted from the terminal benefits owed to them.

The former staff told the court that the company issued them with letters of termination that were later changed to redundancy but they did not understand whether or not they were being retrenched.

They claimed that Kenya Power combined both retrenchment and redundancy.

Through their witness, Mr Enoch Manyu, who was the assistant human resource manager, the former employees alleged that the managing director wrote a letter to the minister for labour informing him of staff reduction plans.

However, the managing director began the termination even before getting a response from the minister.

In its defence, Kenya Power told the court that the former employees had been given sufficient notice of the intended retrenchment and that some of the notices were verbal.

The company stated that the retrenchment of employees was necessitated by internal business challenges that had rendered the company unable to sustain its operations necessitating job cuts.

Read: Kenya Power staff count falls by 1400

The court observed that since the cost-cutting programme was the government’s initiative, the decision to terminate the employment of the 331 applicants must have been approved by the cabinet.

Justice Jorum said he was distressed by the number of years the case had taken to be concluded and the anxiety on the former employees.

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