Seventy seven former employees of the cash-strapped Kenya Planters Co-operative Union (KPCU) have moved to court seeking over Sh349 million 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), which was seeking to recover an outstanding loan of over Sh643 million.
“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 (ELRC).
The KPCU has 21 days to respond to the case failing which “the claim will be heard and determined in its absence.”
Mr Koceyo says the receiver manager violated the claimants’ constitutional and labour rights and therefore they should be compensated.
They are also seeking a declaration that KPCU has breached their fundamental and constitutional rights besides seeking interests and other reliefs deemed fit by the court.
KPCU was placed under receivership by KCB over an unpaid loan of over Sh643 million on October 19, 2009.
The claimants who had worked for the giant coffee miller for periods between 0.52 years and 32.41 years were retrenched by the receiver manager.
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.
“KPCU’s receivership status was lifted after three years on July 4, 2014 then normal operations resumed,” Mr Koceyo says adding, “ One of the terms revival was among others to settle any debts owed by creditors including the 77 claimants.”
The 77 say their former employer has breached Article 41(1) of the Constitution which provides for fair labour practices and that the “farmer coffee miller owes them a legal obligation to settle their terminal dues as required under the law.”
The trial date will be fixed by the ELRC registrar.