A group of 500 former civil servants seeking a Sh124 million compensation for loss of employment due to induced voluntary early retirement, have suffered a setback after the Court of Appeal dismissed their claim.
A three-judge bench comprising Daniel Musinga, Fatuma Sichale and Sankale ole Kantai said the appeal has no merit and upheld the decision by Justice Byram Ongaya of the Employment and Labour Relations Court.
The former public servants stated that between 1994 and 2000, the government colluded with representatives of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the donor community to deceive and mislead them into accepting voluntary retirement.
Their retrenchment was a strategy to address the economic crisis in the country at the time.
They said the move induced breach of respective contracts of employment, hence occasioning them economic harm.
Led by Harrison Ndung’u Mwai, they told the court that there existed a contract of employment between them and the government.
They wanted a declaration that the agreement between the government and the World Bank, IMF and other donors to coerce them into voluntary retirement and refusing and neglecting to pay them as agreed was inhuman, degrading treatment and unconstitutional.
Further, the appellants wanted the retrenchment to be declared illegal and unconstitutional.
They also wanted the government to be prohibited from retrenching civil servants as a condition for getting grants, loans or aid from lending institutions and other international donors.
In defence, the government through the attorney-general denied the appellants’ claims and stated that they retired voluntarily.
When the case went to the Labour court, Justice Ongaya found that that each of the appellants had voluntarily retired from their employment and that the suit was time barred.
The court noted that the case was filed on December 9, 2004 at the High Court in Nakuru while the cause of action was supposed to have been filed within three years from 2000.
“The suit was clearly time barred and the trial court had no jurisdiction to hear and determine it. By virtue of Section 3(2) of the Public Authorities Limitations Act, such a suit ought to have been instituted within three years from the date on which the cause of action accrued,” the appeal judges explained to the former public workers.
The judges also found there was clear admission that each of the appellants voluntarily filled and signed the application forms for voluntary early retirement, were paid their dues and effectively retired from the civil service.
“It is instructive that none of the appellants refunded the terminal benefits they received from the government but opted to institute the claim long after they had spent their respective dues. This appeal is without any merit,” said the judges.