RVR staff in court to stop transfer without union nod

Workers at a Rift Valley Railways yard in Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Workers at a Rift Valley Railways yard in Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Rift Valley Railways (RVR) workers have asked the High Court to stop their transfer back to Kenya Railways Corporation until their union representatives have been included in the employees hand-back process.

The RVR personnel, through the Rift Valley Workers Union, claim that union representatives have been excluded from handing back of employees to Kenya Railways.

RVR has about 2,000 workers, but the court documents do not state how many of these are members of the union.

They add that exclusion of union representatives may expose them to unfair terms and create an unfriendly working environment.

The move comes as RVR hands back assets, including employees, to Kenya Railways following the termination of its concession agreement in July.

The RVR Workers Union has filed the application in a suit that RVR had earlier filed against Kenya Railways to oppose the termination of its 25 year-concession.

RVR withdrew its suit after agreeing to termination of the deal and has since been handing back assets to Kenya Railways.

RVR has now opposed the application by the lobby, arguing that the commercial and admiralty division of the High Court has no authority to oversee employment disputes.

RVR adds that its workers’ lobby was not a party to the suit or the concession deal with Kenya Railways hence has no standing to request any orders within the same suit.

“The RVR Workers Union prays that the ongoing process of transferring employees be stayed until a credible modality of orderly hand back of employees is in place. It is inconceivable that an orderly transfer as was directed by this honourable court can actually take place without the workers’ representatives, the trade union, being in the mix of it all,” the lobby says.

But RVR says that there are court orders in separate suits before the labour relations court which bar it from recognizing the RVR Workers Union hence it cannot engage the lobby in the hand back of employees to Kenya Railways.

“RVR Workers Union is not a party to the concession documents forming the substratum of the instant suit and as such, there is no relationship between the two parties upon which any right of action or demand can arise,” RVR says in its objection to the application.