The Employment and Labour Relations court has dismissed a case seeking to stop West Kenya Sugar Company, owned by sugar cartel Jaswant Rai from downscaling its workforce.
According to Jaswant Rai owned company, the downscaling was attributed to low business returns due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Justice Nduma Nderi said some of the issues raised in the case by the Kenya Union of Sugarcane Plantation and Allied Workers (KUSPAW) are the subject of other court cases.
Justice Nduma also ruled that most of the other issues raised have already happened.
In its court papers, the union said that in July, 2020 the sugar miller issued a memo directing workers to sign new contracts on July 2, 2020.
On the said date, it noted that employees found gates manned by police officers and employees were divided into groups with instructions to sign new contracts which they signed but got no copies.
The union said the company also issued letters of termination dated June 29, 2020 to all truck drivers, who were working on both permanent and contract terms, without following due process.
It argued that the conduct violated the MoU signed by the tripartite parties and government directive that workers should not lose employment during CovidD-19 period. It described the development as an unfair Labour practice against contracted workers.
However, the company through its human resource manager Martin Chisaka told court that it employed over 4,000 employees and more than 2,500 employees are on fixed-term contracts whereas the rest are on permanent and pensionable terms.
Mr Chisaka said the pandemichas adversely affected the business.
Billionaire Jaswant Rai, through his three sugar millers: Olepito; West Kenya and Sukari Industries, now controls over a third of the sugar produced locally.