COTU Boss Atwoli Moves to Court to Save Hundreds From Being Fired

  • File image of Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli
    File image of Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli
    File
  • Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli, has obtained court orders barring James Finlays Limited from laying off 719 tea estate workers until the case is heard in court.

    Atwoli, who is also the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KEPAWU) Secretary General, questioned the process the Kericho based firm followed to lay off the workers and declare many others redundant. 

    This notice, Atwoli noted, had breached the Employment Act 2007 laws of Kenya.

    Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology where he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree on December 14, 2018.
    Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology where he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree on December 14, 2018.
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    "Before an employer carries out a mass layoff, he must involve the union and Ministry of labour.

    "This is why we moved to court to obtain the court order barring the company from dismissing the employees until our case is heard and determined," he noted.

    The company had issued the notice on Friday, November 20, stating that the workers' tenure would come to an end on December 31, 2020. 

    The company had cited a tough business environment in the year owing to low demand of their products, low tea prices and external cost. 

    This, they claimed, necessitated them to take extent measures to stay afloat.

    Kericho MCAs, who were opposed to the move, noted that they had summoned the Finlays management over the mass layoff.

    They stated that various attempts to convince the Finlays management to reconsider the move had been futile. The local legislators sought to understand why the management hadn't notified them of the mass layoff.

    This was not the first time that the Kericho based firm was carrying out a mass lay off as on October 21, it announced the closure of two flower farms in Kericho County.

    This decision saw 1,700 workers left jobless. The company, in its defence, cited high labour cost and poor prices as reasons behind the layoff.

    James Finlay Tea estate in Kenya
    James Finlay Tea estate in Kenya.