By SMART SAM NEWS TEAM
A bruising legal tussle has kicked off in the Industrial court in Nairobi after the staff of the defunct Communication commission of Kenya (CCK) has moved to court through their Senior Counsel Professor Tom Ojienda to defend their jobs.
Senior directors of (CCK) now known as Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) led by Benson Okumu under a banner Communication workers Union (CUWU) moved to the Industrial court in an urgent petition Monday, after their jobs were advertised in the Daily Nation last week.
CUWU accused the CAK of terminating their contracts without consent. They said that they were to be automatically absorbed by the CAK under the new Kenya Information and Communication (KICA 2014 Bill) that was signed in to law.
The staff wronged a statement from CAK Chairman pursuant to the meeting of the Board of Directors of the December 3, 2014 indicating that restructuring of the ranks was due to the change in the law and rebranding.
The Union faulted the Board that by the mere fact that it was interviewed and hence they would like to advertise and carry out interviews for positions currently occupied by staff was a breach of their employment terms.
Through Senior Counsel Professor Tom Ojienda, CUWU said section 41(2) (a) of the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Act No. 41A of 2013 had itself provided for transition of the said staff.
The communication authority of Kenya board of directors renamed the positions held by the petitioners without any legal procedure.
The board is accused of suspending any provision of its Human Resource Policies Manual that conflicts with the renaming process notwithstanding that the Manual is part and parcel of the CCK Contracts of Service with its employees and can thus be only suspended upon mutual consent with the affected employees.
CUWU alleges that the positions of the rest of the staff in the organization remain uncertain without any clear communications to such staff hence causing anxiety in the organization about the possibility of also being declared redundant.
The workers said: “All processes arising from any such Advertisement are superfluous, null and void for all intents and purposes.”
They seek to stop the CAK from recruiting new staff to the newly created positions. About 29 staff, according to the court records will be affected with the decision of the board of director to change the structure of CAK management.
The petitioners argue that the new structure merely changes the nomenclature of Director to Chief Manager and the Assistant Director to Senior Manager and introduces 3 new positions of General Manager.
The petitioners want the action by CAK board of directors to advertise the positions of its employees serving in the positions of Director and Assistant Director be declared a breach of the employees’ rights as provided in the law.
“If this flawed process by the Respondent is allowed to stand, the rest of the staff, including ‘Unionisable’ employees will be adversely affected since it will trickle down to all employees of the Respondent,” Professor Ojienda outlined in the petition.
The aggrieved staff says that they have neither been notified nor was the Labour Office of the decision to render the employees of the CAK.
About 29 staff, according to the court records will be affected with the decision of the board of director to change the structure of CAK management.
The CAK Board Chairman, is accused of insubordination, the petitioners say his role is to play the policy oversight has since advertised the positions thereby taking over the role of the Director General, who is the accounting officer.
The case will be heard on Tuesday Morning of 22 December, 2014 before duty judge Nzioka Kamau.