Complex B Automobile Corporation is a motor vehicle repair and accessories entity that has been in operation for over 30 years. The company owes its inception to Mr. Said Bidii who initially operated an open- shade Jua Kali workshop in Bomet County. It is a patronized by customers drawn from both local and foreign markets owing to product reliability, superior performance, aesthetic and perceived quality products. In addition to world class customer care and competitive prices, over the years, the entity has expanded in size and in December 2015, it was rated as the County’s market leader in the motor industry in terms of revenue. In the period ending December 2016, Complex B Automobile Corporation was among the largest listed companies at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.
Owing to the high demand for motor vehicle servicing, the company has resorted to new working patterns that include shift arrangements to provide Services around the clock on daily basis. During peak hours, the lean staff cannot meet the company’s services requirements and as a result the management engages the services of workers on temporary basis for both the skilled and non- skilled services.
To enhance its competitiveness, the board of management recently engaged the services of Mr. Yashihilo from Japan as a Chief Executive Officer. To map the way forward, he held a meeting with the management team to brainstorm and share ideas about how various sections could be coordinated, with the intention to deliver higher quality and superior products and services. Among the strategies outlined by the CEO included the elimination of trade union activities, engaging employees beyond their normal working hours, withdrawal of overtime pay and abolition of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) between the management and the trade union. The management team readily embraced these suggestions and agreed that this information would be shared with all the employees with immediate effect.
A day after the meeting, the union officials under the leadership of the Secretary General held an urgent meeting with the employees and strongly opposed the decision by the management. As a result, the employees staged a sit- in strike in all operational areas and demanded that the management rescind the decision. The union officials argued that the Collective Bargaining process has been used successfully in the past to handle matters relating to employees’ wellbeing and should not be done away with. In addition, they argued that employees’ participation in management decision – making was an important element.
In a meeting held to address the crisis, there was a confrontation between the officials and the management, when they later demanded that employees resume duties. The management emphasized the need to introduce a union free operational workplace to enhance productivity, while the union officials made it clear that in accordance with the Kenyan Labour Laws, workers in the unionisable category are entitled to Trade Union membership.
The Secretary General further argued that the union and the management had negotiated and signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that had been registered at the Employment and Labour Relation Courts of Kenya and the guidelines should be observed during the negotiation process. The management fearing that the situation was getting out of hand, made a special request to the Secretary General to order the members to resume work as negotiations continued. The Secretary General yielded the management pressure and directed the shop stewards to request workers to resume their duties as requested by themanagement.
During negotiations, the Secretary General argued that employees were working under poor conditions in contravention of the Labour Laws of the Country. Among the problems highlighted by the Secretary General included unfair treatment, long and extended working hours that were not duly compensated, low wages, autocratic leadership, lack of open communication among other problems. As a result of poor work environment, most employees had developed poor attitude to work, low morale and poor working relations.
In its defense, the management accused the workers of failure to meet set targets, indiscipline, insubordination, wastage of resources, absenteeism, drug and substanceabuse at the workplace, among others. It defended its decision to take disciplinary measures against the employees for the unbecoming behavior. After a lengthy and heated exchange each party acknowledged their shortcomings and it was mutually agreed that the management would create a friendly work environment, support workers’ growth and foster good working relations. In turn, the union officials promised to sensitize the employees on the need to support the management, carry out their roles effectively and embrace work. The secretary General thanked the CEO and the management team and promised that the union will work towards promoting harmony at the work place.