Industry

KTDA manager fails to retain his job after court battle

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Kenya Tea Development Agency Ltd board at a press conference at their offices at KTDA building in Nairobi on December 1, 2021. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NMG

A top manager at the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Holdings has failed in his bid to retain his job after the expiry of a three-year contract.

Dr Charles Kirimi Mbui wanted the Labour Relations Court to stop KTDA from terminating his contract as managing director of KTDA’s subsidiary Chai Trading Company, “which was renewed on June 8, 2021.”

He had already obtained a temporary order dated September 29, 2021, stopping his sacking or recruitment of a new MD pending determination of the case.

But James Rika has declined Dr Mbui’s request and discharged the temporary order upon finding that the same had been granted against the background of his failure to make full disclosure of material facts.

The judge found there was no renewed contract executed between the parties at the time Dr Mbui sued and obtained the court orders alleging the contract was renewed on June 8, 2021.

“There was only in place, a recommendation of the Board Nomination and Remuneration Committee, dated June 8, 2021, for renewal of the contract for a further period of three years and 11 months,” said Justice Rika.

“The claimant was aware there was no renewal at the time he came before the court, but only a recommendation for renewal.”

The court said although there was a recommendation for renewal of Dr Mbui’s contract, he did not show that the board was bound by those recommendations.

To support his case on renewal of the contract, Dr Mbui had relied mainly on the minutes of the committee meeting held on June 8, 2021 indicating that the subject of his contract renewal was discussed at length.

The committee had recommended that since he will attain the mandatory retirement age of 60 years in September 2025, his contract be renewed for a further period of three years and 11 months [October 1, 2021 to September 15, 2025].

“Why a committee comprising top echelons of the company’s board, would recommend renewal of the contract, only to be overruled by the full board, is indicative of internecine strife within the company,” said Justice Rika.

Mr Wilson Muthaura, for example, sat in the Nomination and Remuneration Committee on June 8, 2021, which recommended renewal of the contract, and is the same officer who wrote to Dr Mbui on September 13, 2021, advising him that his contract would not be renewed.

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