The Employment and Labour Relations Court has given the greenlight to Kenya Power's meter reading deal with the National Youth Service (NYS), coming just a week after it had temporarily halted it.
The electricity distributor had inked a deal to engage more than 300 NYS servicemen in identifying meter locations across Kenya, a move that was opposed by Kenya Power employees who sued over fears that the deal would result in them losing their jobs.
The 320 employees, mostly meter readers, through their union Kenya Electrical Trades and Allied Workers Union (Ketawu), moved to court seeking orders to restrain the electricity distributor from firing them. They also sought to have Kenya Power restrained from outsourcing information and data gathering, arguing that it was breach of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
After granting temporarily relief to the workers last week, High Court Judge Maureen Onyango has on July 29 ordered that "the status quo be maintained to the extent that no member of the claimant/applicant (the union) be adversely affected by the contract between the first and second respondent (Kenya Power and NYS)."
This, the court said, is pending hearing of the case set for November 3, 2021.
On its part, Kenya Power terms fears by the workers as "unfounded and mere conjecture."
"The applicant's allegations that the terms of employment of their members and particularly meter readers and meter technicians of scales D, E, F, G, H, J, K, L, M will be changed, or declared redundant hence subjected to job losses are mere speculations," says Ms Emily Kirui, Kenya Power's legal officer, in court documents.
Kenya Power last year entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with NYS, agreeing to take up 300 officers and 10 supervisors from the youth service to do meter reading.
In the MoU, Kenya Power would cater for costs and pay the outsourced meter readers Sh1,000 daily while the supervisors would be paid Sh2,000 daily. On its part, NYS would provide labour, transport and work equipment.