Companies

Sacked Portland manager wins back his position

Stephen-Nthei

East African Portland Cement acting MD Stephen Nthei. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG

Summary

  • The judge said the appointment of Japheth Ombogo as production manager was improper as it was marred by irregularities and the sacking of Mr Guma pointed to either malice or witch-hunt or both.

Internal leadership wrangles at the East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) #ticker:PORT have taken a twist after a court reinstated Jacob Omondi Guma as production manager.

Justice Maureen Onyango of the Labour Court Nairobi annulled the company’s decision to appoint Japheth Ombogo to the position.

The judge said the appointment of Mr Ombogo was improper as it was marred by irregularities and the sacking of Mr Guma pointed to either malice or witch-hunt or both.

Justice Onyango said Mr Guma is the holder of the position in accordance with his three-year contract dated September 24, 2019 until the expiry on September 25, 2022 without any loss of benefits, unless lawfully terminated as required by law.

Mr Guma moved to court after being removed from the position in November last year when he had only served for two months.

He viewed the termination of his employment as irregular, malicious and witch-hunt as the person earmarked to be interviewed for the position and subjected to a suitability test was his junior.

Mr Guma sued after being issued with an employment termination notice dated October 31 which indicated that the termination was to take effect on November 1. The letter, which was signed by the company’s acting managing director Stephen Nthei, was received by Mr Guma on November 6.

Mr Guma told court that he was neither given a hearing prior to the termination nor the reasons for the termination.

However, the company denied the allegations of malice and told court that Mr Ombogo was appointed to the position of production manager with effect from November 1, 2019, after an interview and a suitability test.

The company added that Mr Guma did not possess the required qualifications hence his termination.

The court held that the letter for termination violated Mr Guma’s right under Article 47(1) of the Constitution for failing to disclose the reason for the termination of his contract.

The court said the company failed to prove the validity of the reason for his termination.

“The termination letter was silent on the reason for termination. The board’s resolution that resolved to terminate the petitioner’s contract was not adduced before this court. Neither was there any evidence to show that the Petitioner had been performing poorly as alleged,” ruled the judge.

There was further no evidence of a suitability test carried out for his replacement, or another suitability test which found him unsuitable between September 24 and October 30, 2019.