Earlier in the year, Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya announced they had signed a binding agreement to merge their mobile, enterprise and carrier services to form a single joint venture company to be named Airtel-Telkom.
The Merger has however run into headwinds after a group of former employees asked the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to block it.
The former employees claim the merger if it goes through would see it hard to recover Sh 1 Billion should they win the labour dispute where they claim they were wrongly sacked in January 2016.
The workers, who were laid off as part of the cash-strapped telco’s restructuring process but insist that the merger is being carried out in a “clandestine” manner and it is strategically structured and implemented to deny them access “to the potential fruits of their claims in the court of law.”
With less than a week to go, The group of 52 ex-workers through their lawyer Duncan Okatch have quoted five reasons they are opposed to the merger, chief among them being the refusal of the merged entity to shoulder liabilities of the previous single companies.
The claims hinges on a notice issued by Telkom Kenya stating that the “new entity is not assuming nor does it intend to assume the liabilities incurred by the entities merging.” which will frustrate their claims. “Information regarding the merger is scanty as it is being released very economically and strategically by parties therein such as that our clients are left confused as to the impact will have on their claim,” said the lawyer, noting that their clients’ attempt to have Airtel furnish them with the information has not been successful.
CA, in a Gazette notice, had given anyone opposed to the merger until August 12, failure to which it would approve the marriage between the two firms.
Should the CA block the merger, Airtel-Telkom would have to wait until the 2016 case is complete to finalize the details.
The easier solution would however see Airtel-Telkom give an undertaking that the new entity will take up the liability.