Seventy-seven former employees of financially-challenged Kenya Planters Co-operative Union (KPCU) have moved to court seeking over Sh349million in terminal dues.
The former unionisable employees and administration officers state in their claim that they were axed from the giant coffee miller by a receiver manager appointed by the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) to recover an outstanding loan of over Sh643million.
“The 77 were retrenched by the receiver and the manager seconded by KCB to KPCU without termination letters then left without notice nor payment of terminal dues,” lawyer Titus Koceyo for the claimants states in the case he filed at the Employment and Labour Relations Court on Thursday.
And the court has now given KPCU 21 days to respond to the case filed by the sacked employees, failure “the claim will be heard and determined in its absence.”
Mr Koceyo says the action of the receiver manager violated the claimants’ constitutional and labour rights and therefore they should be compensated.
They are now asking the court to compel KPCU to pay them terminal dues amounting to Sh349,291,843.
Also, they are seeking a declaration that KPCU breached their fundamental and constitutional rights under Articles 41(1),43 (1) (e) and 57 of the Constitution besides seeking interests and other reliefs deemed fit by the court.
According to the suit documents lodged by Mr Koceyo at the court, it is averred that KPCU was placed under receivership by KCB over an unpaid loan of over Sh643 million on October 19, 2009.
Having been placed under receivership, the claimants who had worked for the giant coffee miller for periods between 0.52 years and 32.41 years were retrenched.
“KPCU’s receivership status was lifted after three years on July 4, 2014 then normal operations resumed,” Mr Koceyo says.
Following a countrywide outcry by farmers over their unpaid dues from coffee deliveries and other debtors, the government paid KCB Sh400 million to enable the miller resume operations.
The 77 have who have named KPCU as the respondent say their former employer has breached Article 41(1) of the Constitution which provides for fair labour practices and that the “coffee miller owes them a legal obligation to settle their terminal dues as required under the law.”
Their rights to social and economic empowerment as provided under Article 43 of the Constitution, they argue, have been breached through none payment of their terminal dues.
The Export Promotion Council (EPC) has begun the hunt for a new CEO weeks after Ruth Wangare Mwaniki announced she will exit the State agency to seek political office.