The Employment and Labour Relations Court has barred the demotion of over 1,000 Nyamira County employees.
Justice Christine Baari, sitting in Kisumu, issued a stay order on Wednesday until a petition filed by four county workers is heard and determined.
The petitioners –Lamech Machuki Nyariki, Lewis Oburu Nyaribo, Douglas Mecha Osoro and Dan Isaac Onyancha– accuse Governor Amos Nyaribo's administration of changing the terms of employment without allowing the affected workers the opportunity to be heard.
In the court papers, they say in a letter dated August 25, 2021, and served early September, the County Chief Officer, Public Service Management, notified county employees that they had been demoted to lower job grades and their salaries revised downwards.
"The matter is certified as urgent. The respondents are directed to maintain the terms and conditions of employment of the petitioners and staff of the County Government of Nyamira," directed Justice Baari.
The county government, Governor Nyaribo and the County Public Service Board are the respondents in the case.
"The actions of the first and second respondents have violated the petitioners' legal and constitutional rights to be heard and to be offered a fair administrative action, which requires that an employer cannot alter the terms of employment to the detriment of the employee unless due process is adhered to and the law upheld," said the petitioners.
Further, they argue that workers are likely to suffer as the demotions have affected their rights to remunerations which they had signed and agreed to with the employer.
The petitioners say the move is likely to interfere with county employees' contractual obligations with third parties such as financial institutions, thereby resulting in extreme hardship and financial embarrassment.
Earlier this month, Governor Nyaribo announced that more than 1,000 Nyamira County employees who had been illegally promoted had been demoted.
The county boss said the affected staff across 10 departments would be surcharged as the devolved unit moved to clean up its payroll after being cited for irregularities by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
In one of the cases, an officer was promoted every year from 2016 to 2019, moving up four job groups from K to P.
In another case, an officer in grade J in March 2016 was promoted to job group L in January 2021 and then to N in February.
Other officers were promoted to non-existing job groups within departments, moving to grades reserved for chief officers.
"The matter is set for inter parties hearing on October 6, 2021. Applicants to serve the application on the respondents," directed Justice Baari.