More than 150 employees of Kisii University have suffered a setback after a judge dismissed a case in which they sought to stop their employer from declaring them redundant.
Employment and Labour Relations Court judge Stephen Radido dismissed the case saying the employees should have channeled their grievances through the Kenya Universities Staff Union instead of moving to court individually.
“In the view of the Court, the decision of the Petitioners, to move to the Court directly without even disclosing why they were bypassing the Union served to undermine the constitutionally recognised role of their trade unions as well as statutorily ordained dispute resolution mechanisms,” the judge said.
Justice Radido said the Labour Relations Act has elaborate provisions on dealing with disputes where employees are organised under the ambit of a trade union.
“Since the subject was an (apprehended) dispute between the trade union and the employer concerning the employment of employees, members of the Union, the first port of call should have been the Union reporting a trade dispute to the Cabinet Secretary, Labour as contemplated by Part VIII of the Labour Relations Act,” the judge added.
The employees moved to court after Kisii University vice chancellor Prof John Akama issued a redundancy notice on September 30, seeking to fire 204 workers.
Through their lawyer Danstan Omari, the employees who include clerks, secretaries, procurement officers, and cateresses and halls officers said the university council was not properly constituted, when the decision was made.
Other than the lack of quorum, the Kisii University employees said the institution has failed to demonstrate satisfactorily, in the notice that the services they were offering were no longer needed.