New KCC opposes Sh200m ex-staff suit

By: ABIUD OCHIENG

The New Kenya Co-operative Creameries Ltd has opposed an application filed by its former employees who are alleging unfair termination and are seeking over Sh200 million.

The milk processor wants the application dismissed because the aggrieved employees have filed it out of the lawfully accepted time.

In the court papers, New KCC has said that claims of unfair termination should be filed before the lapse of three years, from the time the alleged complaint occurred.

Mr John Kihiato Baro, Mr James Waciuri, Mr Bernard Kanada and Mr Jackson Warui Njau, have filed a case on behalf of all former employees of KCC Ltd, seeking a declaration that the company should pay them Sh109,640,481 (terminal benefits), Sh2,027,622 (provident fund dues) and deducted but un-remitted Sh92,803,451 (Maziwa Sacco dues).

They are also seeking an order that the interests on all these claims should be calculated from January 1, 2010.

New KCC has, however, said in the court papers filed Monday, that the alleged claim arose around November 1997 but was filed in court in August, 2013, nearly 16 years.

“The claim has clearly been filed out of time, contrary to the provisions under Section 90 of the Employment Act. Parties cannot purport to bring a cause of action 16 years out of time. To do so will amount to an abuse of the court process,” said New KCC.

The company added that in view of these facts, the case should be dismissed as the court lacks jurisdiction to hear a matter whose time has lapsed.

Services of about 6,000 KCC employees were terminated on November 17, 1997, after they went on strike.

Their previous attempts to lobby Parliament to intervene and force the Treasury to release to them more than Sh200 million did not succeed.

KCC Ltd was placed under receivership in the late 1990s and later sold by the receiver-manager appointed by PriceWaterhouseCoopers to a new company called New KCC at Sh400 million.

The government later bought New KCC and KCC Holdings for Sh547 million.

The parties will go back to court on February 5, next year, when the preliminary objection raised by New KCC will be heard.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION