Court stops Kenol lay-offs

Updated: August 31, 2012

 Tension between staff and management of Kenol Kobil remained high on Thursday, two days after the oil marketer was stopped from sacking its employees.
Industrial Court judge Linnet Ndolo on Tuesday barred the oil marketer from sending home employees until a case lodged by three workers challenging the company’s takeover by Swiss company Puma Energy is determined.

More than 250 non-unionisable employees fear that they would be next on the line.

Kenol Kobil had by Friday, 10 dismissed two employees, citing poor performance, while on Monday 14 it sent six others home on similar grounds.

In Tanzania, the oil marketer is facing similar court action by its subsidiary — KenolKobil Tanzania — after employees moved to court.

Senior staff at the oil marketer in Nairobi said Puma Energy had asked the oil marketer to lay off at least half of the employees as part of the ongoing take-over.

“There is a lot of tension among the staff; the harassment hasn’t stopped. Several other employees have been told to prepare to leave the company in the next three months. When officers from Puma Energy first came to our office, they indicated that they would want a leaner and younger staff,” a senior employee at the firm said.

Puma Energy is fully owned by Trafigura, a Swiss commodities conglomerate linked to a toxic waste scandal. Contacted, Trafigura said it was still carrying out a due diligence process.

“Once this process is completed and price discussions are finalised, we will be in a position to announce the next steps,” Ms Victoria Dix, Trafigura’s head of media relations, said in an email interview.

Top shareholders of the firm associated with former Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott, who are at the centre of the deal, have gone to great lengths to conceal their identities, instead declaring their interests through shell companies.

The firm has also kept its 8,000 minority shareholders in the dark over the details of the deal struck.

Conservative estimates put the transaction at Sh25 billion, and it could see the oil marketer get delisted and turned into a private company.

Article Courtesy: Daily Nation

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