After three years of waiting, three former employees of the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) got some Justice yesterday after the institution was ordered to pay them Sh 22 million for unfair dismissal.
According to employment and Labour Relation Court Principal Judge, Justice Mathew Nderi Nduma who issued the order, the commission failed to follow the law while terminating the employment of the three employees who had served as senior accountants. The three were irregularly dismissed in 2011.
Former Internal Auditor Peter Mwangangi, Livestock manager Patrick Ekodere and Accountant Benjamin Kituku were awarded Sh9, 897,096, Sh5, 589,381, Sh4, 906,488 respectively. The judge upheld the submission of the claimant’s lawyer Patrick Lutta to the effect that the termination of their employment was substantially and procedurally unfair. Justice Nduma said that the board as demonstrated by Lutta did not try to grant the three an opportunity to be heard and was unrepentant in that regard by saying that internal procedures permitted the deviation.
“The respondent blatantly admitted that it did not have to observe provisions of the employment act and that it did not therefore issue the claimants with a notice to show cause nor give them a hearing,” the judge said in the judgment delivered by judge Hellen Wasilwa. The court said that employment law supersedes internal procedures as the Act provides minimum standards to be observed by every employer.
In the suit, Mwangangi had told the court that he was employed on September 30, 2008 as an accountant for a period of three years and in October 1 the same year; he was promoted to the position of a Chief Accountant due to dedication to work. On July 12, 2011, his employment was however terminated by the board on grounds that he failed to manage, control and account for most of KMC finances. “Audited accounts for financial year 2010 were found clean thereby vindicating my good performance as the chief accountant,” Mwangangi said.
Ekodere on the other hand was dismissed on July 12 on grounds of under performance, ineptitude and incompetence. In his defense, he maintained that the accusations were unfounded as his contract had been renewed based on his good performance and therefore the termination was malicious.
“The alleged grounds were unfounded as I was not given an opportunity to defend myself,” Ekodere said. Kituku on his defense said he was accused by the board of under performance, inability to manage and failure to provide the board with data relating to the operations of KMC yet there was no documented evidence.
Kenya has various Acts Of Parliament, which form the labour legislation framework for the country. These include the Employment Act (Cap. 226); Regulation of Wages and Conditions of Employment Act among others and it’s crucial for employees to acquaint themselves with the law in order to safeguard rights against malpractice in the workplace.