Court backs firing of Delmonte staff in porridge tender bribery

A Del Monte products shop in Thika. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Employment and Labour Relations Court has backed a decision by fruit grower and processor Delmonte Kenya to sack a senior field employee for receiving a Sh240,000 bribe to influence a tender to supply porridge to workers.

John Munyua allegedly solicited a bribe from Henry Kamau Mwaniki to help him secure the tender at the company based in Thika.

He was also alleged to have engaged in a plot among workers to boycott the porridge of the then supplier so that the contract could be terminated and pave the way for a fresh tendering.

Justice Onesmus Makau said the dismissal of Mr Munyua, a leadman (head of a group of staff) in the agriculture department, was valid and fair procedure was followed.

“Such conduct of employees soliciting and receiving bribes from third parties and going to an extent of engineering a scheme for industrial action in order to manipulate tendering processes is incompatible with work ethics universally and any employee engaging in such conduct has obviously substantially breached his own contract. In such circumstances the employer is justified in summarily dismissing the employee as it happened in this case,” said Justice Makau.

The judge declined Mr Munyua’s prayer for reinstatement and damages for unfair termination.

In its response to the suit, Delmonte said the conduct of the employee was a valid ground for terminating his employment. The company stated that after the arrest of Mr Munyua, he signed an agreement undertaking to repay the money to the complainant.

Thereafter, he wrote a statement at the company’s office confirming that the purpose of receiving the money from Mr Mwaniki was to secure the tender.

The court heard that in the statement the claimant acknowledged that they had paid Sh10,000 to a deputy chief to arrange for the staff to boycott the porridge from the contracted supplier to sabotage the existing tender, which had an automatic renewal clause.

It added that he was accorded a disciplinary hearing before the dismissal.

Martha Adongo Atudo, the company’s senior department head of industrial relations, testified that the worker was dismissed on the allegation of soliciting and receiving the money to secure a tender for the supply of porridge to the company, which was a criminal offence that led to his arrest.

He had served the company for 18 years before the sacking and his appeal was dismissed.

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