The Star (Nairobi)

28 February 2014

Kenya: Essar Sued for Sh1.2 Billion, Orders Against CEO Sought

Third largest mobile phone operator Essar Kenya has been sued by its employees seeking to stop its sale until their terminal dues totaling to Sh1.2 billion is secured.

Also sought is an order to compel Essar's chief executive officer Madhur Taneja to deposit his passport in court to preempt any possible plans to escape from jurisdiction before the matter is heard and determined.

Through their lawyer Charles Kanjama, the employees informed the court that it's employer is on a restructuring process through which it intends to divest its interest in the country and sell off shares to third parties.

"The negotiations for the said restructuring transaction are at the penultimate stage and the respondent is about to sign or has already signed agreements with third parties," the court was told.

And in the event the court does not intervene and stop the sale, there is high likelihood that they will not get their dues, the employees claims.

"The petitioners who are employees of the respondent are reasonably apprehensive that if successful in their claim they will be unable to recover employee liability costs to which they are entitled following such event."

The employees also complained of harassments from the company ever since they moved to court seeking reprieve. This, they said, happened despite the fact that there is a court order in place consented to by all parties that the company will not in any way intimidate the employees.

And as a result, they want Taneja to be summoned to appear in court in person and explain why he should not be committed to civil jail for going against an order.

The order which was disobeyed by the company was granted on February 12. It restrained the company from intimidating the employees as a result of the case they filed in court.

"Respondent's (Essar's) despise towards the honorable court and its flagrant disregard for court orders in light of this ongoing litigation has been deliberate, contumelious and highhanded calculated to bring into disrepute and interfere with due administration of justice," read the suit paper in part.

Yesterday industrial court Judge Linet Ndolo after hearing Kanjama's arguments certified the matter as urgent and directed that it be heard in presence of all parties on March 11.

She however did not give any temporary order opting to direct Kanjama to serve his suit papers on the company first.

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