TransCentury unit appeals deal with workers’ union

Civicon, a subsidiary of investment firm TransCentury, has appealed the Industrial Court’s decision to have it sign an agreement with the Amalgamated Union of Kenya Metal Workers.

The agreement paved the way for Civicon’s workers to join the union thereby accessing a platform through which they can negotiate better pay and other employment terms.

Civicon told a bench of three Court of Appeal judges that Justice Onesmus Makau erred in law when issuing the directive.

The judge had further directed the company to deduct union dues from staff affiliated to the union and remit the same to the union’s account.

Civicon’s lawyer, Titus Mugambi, argued that the judge failed to consider that at the time of filing the suit, the union had not recruited a simple majority of the total unionisable workforce for them to deserve recognition.

Mr Mugambi told Justice Milton Makhandia, William Ouko and Kathurima M’inot that 184 out of the 345 registered union members had withdrawn membership.

This left the number of those remaining in the union below the minimum of 290 at which the simple majority rule for union recognition would have been attained, Mr Mugambi argued.

The company has a total workforce of 580. “Some 184 workers withdrew their membership from the union and this made it to lack the simple majority the threshold for the union to gain recognition,” Mr Mugambi said.

“The learned judge consequently erred in law when he decreed or ordered that the appellants forthwith enter into a recognition agreement with the respondent contrary to express provision of section 54 of the labour relations Act,” added Mr Mugambi.

Civicon asked the appeal court to set aside the judgment, arguing that the union did not meet the required threshold.

The union in a rejoinder, through lawyer Festus Mwangangi, asked the judges to dismiss the appeal with costs and uphold the Industrial Court’s decision.

Mr Mwangangi argued that the respondent had recruited the appellant’s 345 out of 580 unionisable members representing 60 per cent of the unionisable staff, hence meeting the simple majority threshold prescribed by the Section 54 of the Labour Act. Judgment will be delivered on February 12, 2016.