50 Met department officials lose suit in promotion row

The High Court has ordered the arrest of Mombasa County executive committee member for finance and the chief officer of finance.

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A judge has rejected a plea by 50 principal meteorological technologists to compel the Environment ministry to promote them after they were left out while their colleagues in the same cadre were moved to a higher job rank.

The 50 technologists had accused the ministry of discrimination after they were left out while others were moved from job group ‘N’ to ‘P’, in June 2021. They were in a group of 170 technologists promoted in 2017 but 156 were later moved up the ranks on June 9, 2021.

The officials argued that apart from setting a bad precedent in the service where junior officers surpass the top officers in seniority, it causes demoralisation and dissatisfaction in the service and may adversely affect service delivery.

Employment and Labour Relations Court judge Byram Ongaya, however, said the petitioners have failed to show by analysis that each of them were in exactly a similar position as those who were promoted.

“On the material before the Court, it is difficult to determine that the petitioners were thereby discriminated against,” said the judge.

The judge also said the director of Kenya Meteorological Department may consider establishing additional positions at Job Group P as per section 27 of the Public Service Commission Act and if found justifiable, then the petitioners’ concerns may be addressed one way or the other.

Justice Ongaya further said the employees should not be victimised for initiating a well-founded grievance. “A declaration shall issue that the respondents shall not victimise the petitioners for filing the petition which, though not successful, was well founded and not frivolous,” said the judge.

The petitioners had claimed that the move to promote a section of employees should not be allowed to take root in the civil service.

They claimed that the director had held that technologists who hold the same qualifications should be promoted to Group P but the recommendation has never been implemented.

The Attorney General had opposed the petition arguing that the aggrieved employees were circumventing the Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act by relying on the constitutional provisions to push for promotion.

Further, the court heard that the case was premature as the employees had not exhausted other available internal dispute resolution mechanisms provided for in law, before moving to court. The Attorney General also submitted that promotions should only be done where there are available vacancies.

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