NAIROBI—More than 76 employees of the Wajir Water and Sewerage Company (WAJWASCO), whose employment contracts were abruptly terminated in October last year, have a reason to heave a sigh of relief after the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nairobi directed for their immediate reinstatement.
In a ruling delivered via a video link on Thursday, 25th of May by Principal Judge Bryam Ongaya, the Court ruled in favour of the aggrieved staff members.
“The application is allowed in terms of a conservatory order is hereby issued directing the 1st Respondent (WAJWASCO) and its agents to pay the Petitioners together with other aggrieved employees all withheld salaries from the month of October 2022 to date and further directing the 1st Respondent (WAJWASCO) to continue paying the petitioners and the aggrieved employees their salaries as and when they fall due without any further delay,” the Court ruled.
Through Kusow and Company Advocates, the petitioners urgued that “their employment was terminated overnight without following the due procedure.” They also noted that they were not issued with show cause letters or offered avenues for a fair hearing.
The Court also dismissed a preliminary application by the County Government of Wajir through Nchogu, Omwanza & Nyasimi Company Advocates, urguing that the Court lacks jurisdiction to determine the matter. Omwanza told the Court that the aggrieved employees “should seek redress through the Public Service Commission (PSC) as per Section 77 of the County Government Act.”
However, the Petitioner’s advocate stated that his clients were not directly employed by the County Government, but WAJWASCO, a semi-autonomous entity. During the trial, the Court asked to be furnished with the audit report conducted on the December 15th, 2022 by WAJWASCO and 30th January, 2023 by the County Government of Wajir to no avail.
Amnesty International lauds Kulan Post for "holding those in power accountable." pic.twitter.com/qlT01jMZy5
— Kulan Post (@kulanpost) May 22, 2023
What does today’s interim Court ruling mean in a brief?
The court dismissed with cost a preliminary objection challenging it’s jurisdiction to determine the matter. It also ruled that the petitioners are duly employed since no evidence was tabled by both the County Government of Wajir and WAJWASCO to prove that the aggrieved staff “are ghost workers who obtained their appointment letters fraudulently.”
The Employment and Labour Relations Court directed WAJWASCO to reinstate the workers in order to continue with “performing their obligations under the contract of service,” as well as begin the processing of their accrued payments from October last year.
“The due process was not followed in withholding and or stopping the petitioner’s salaries,” the Judge said in today’s interim orders. According to sources who spoke to Kulan, the two Respondents in the case—WAJWASCO and the County Government of Wajir—are reviewing the interim orders and may likely appeal the decision as previously done by the Garissa County Government.