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Norfolk Hotel withdraws notice sacking all workers

The front view of the Fairmont Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi
The front view of the Fairmont Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE  

The owners of The Fairmont Norfolk on Thursday withdrew a notice that fired all employees and closed the iconic hotel in Nairobi indefinitely following a pay fallout triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic that has hurt hotel business.

The hotel informed the employees that the May 27 memo that announced the job cuts has been rescinded, arguing it will open fresh talks with workers.

The Norfolk closure and the layoffs came after the employees declined an offer to remain on unpaid leave during the coronavirus period and demanded a 50 per cent pay, triggering a protest letter from the Attorney General’s office.

“The memo is withdrawn as we continue with consultative meetings with all stakeholders until an agreement is reached,” said Norfolk’s country manager Mehdi Morad.

The hotel appears to have reviewed the step after Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto demanded an explanation on the termination, adding the layoffs breached the law.

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The Fairmont Hotels and Resorts had earlier said they are going to close Fairmont The Norfolk and Fairmont Mara Safari Cub as a result of "spiral effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent flooding of Fairmont Mara Safari Club".

“Demands by the employees at this time and given the current financial constraints are out of reach of the company,” the firm said last week.

The ban on all international flights imposed in mid-March to curb the spread of the virus, have delivered a big hit to the country’s tourism industry, with some hotels on the coast reporting occupancy rates of well below two percent in April.

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