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Corporate

Telkom heads to Supreme Court to appeal Sh3.2bn award to ex-staff

A Telkom Kenya outlet in Nairobi. Photo/FILE
A Telkom Kenya outlet in Nairobi. Telkom Kenya wants the Supreme Court to overturn a Court of Appeal judgment to award Sh3.2 billion to its former workers. Photo/FILE 

Telkom Kenya wants the Supreme Court to overturn a Court of Appeal judgment to award Sh3.2 billion to its former workers.

In October last year, the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal filed by the company seeking to overturn a High Court ruling.

Telkom, through lawyer George Oraro, is now seeking audience with the Supreme Court, on grounds that the case is of “great public importance.”

Mr Oraro invoked Article 163 of the Constitution saying that the appeal meets the threshold of Supreme Court’s attention.

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“Retrenchment of staff was done during the time when Telkom was still a majority shareholder in the company, hence it should be treated within that context – a State parastatal,” he told judges.

A ruling will be made on March 28.

Mr Oraro sought to justify pay differentiation among retrenched staff saying the nature of their contracts varied.

This came after several workers raised concerns over having received less severance pay compared to their colleagues in the same job category.

However, lawyer Anthony Oluoch, who represented the workers challenged Telkom’s submission saying the State has since significantly diluted its stake in the company.

“It would be perverse of the Supreme Court to intervene in this case, it does not sufficiently involve large sections of the public,” he said.

Article 163 says: “Appeals from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court are as a matter of right in any case involving the interpretation or application of this Constitution and in any other case in which the Supreme Court, or the Court of Appeal, certifies that a matter of general public importance is involved.”

Telkom Kenya carried out massive retrenchment in two phases in 2006, which affected more than 11,000 employees who would be compensated.

However, a section of workers aged above 50 years moved to court saying they were discriminated against on the basis of age.

In the first phase, which was for those below 50 years, employees were paid a golden handshake of Sh150,000 each and severance pay of two and half months of basic salary for each year worked.

The second phase targeting employees aged above 50 years saw workers paid Sh150, 000 as golden handshake and severance payment of one month for every year remaining until retirement age – 55 years.

In 2011, High Court directed Telkom to award all groups of retrenched staff equally regardless of age, a decision the firm has contested.

Telkom Kenya argued that the difference in the exit package was due to the accessibility to the pension benefits as those above 50 years have immediate access to pension as opposed to those below.

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