Kenya Kazi Security guards attached to the United States Embassy in Nairobi have protested against the company’s move to “unfairly dismiss” them for demanding overtime arrears.
The 358 guards are demanding more than Sh1 billion in arrears.
In a press statement, the guards claim that on January 23, the federal government of the United States released $1.1 million to be paid to them. The management has not made the payments but instead summarily dismissed them, they said.
They said that on March 26, 2013, Justice James Rika delivered a ruling awarding them overtime and commuter allowances among other benefits.
The KK company on December 5 last year partly honoured the verdict by paying them commuter arrears totaling to Sh132,500 per guard.
With the overtime arrears now pending, the guards engaged the management to give them a formula on how they were going to settle the pending overtime allowance arrears.
The guards representative, Charles Waweru, said that on January 23 this year, a meeting was held between the management of the company and the guards but a consensus was not reached on the payment formula.
He said agreement was not reached because the management was non-committal on paying the arrears, which he said is being “withheld for ulterior motive and bad faith”.
“The company after the said meeting opted to initiate disciplinary proceedings against us guards with the view of harassing and intimidating us in order to continue withholding our overtime arrears payment amounting to a colossal sum of over shs 1 billion,” Waweru said.
He said the procedures provided in the labour laws were not followed in dismissing the 358 guards. The termination process was conducted hurriedly in order to quell the continuing quest by the guards in demanding their dues.
“We are now reliably informed that the management has resorted to deploy unvetted and untrained guards to replace the 358 guards who were specially trained and vetted, thus meeting the specifications and requirements of the US Embassy,” he said.
Waweru said it is unfortunate that the top brass of the US embassy despite being fully aware of the injustice, has chosen to remain silent despite the security threats that their embassy and diplomats are facing.
In 2002, KK was awarded a contract by the United States to provide security services to its embassy headquarters in Nairobi and to the official residences of diplomats.
But the guards have had a history of protracted disputes with the management of the KK security services over union representation, recognition of their union, payment of overtime and commuter allowance dues, and a Collective Bargain Agreement among many other issues.