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December 16, 2018

Saudi embassy agrees to settle ex-worker's Sh45 million suit out of court

Abdi Mohammed, who has sued the Saudi Arabia Embassy, before justice Byram Ongayo on March 14, 2018. /COURTESY
Abdi Mohammed, who has sued the Saudi Arabia Embassy, before justice Byram Ongayo on March 14, 2018. /COURTESY

The royal Saudi Arabia Embassy has agreed to settle out of court, the dispute over the wrongful dismissal of an employee that could cost it Sh45 million.

In court on Wednesday, the embassy's lawyer told Justice Byram Ongayo that they did not dispute owing Abdi Mohammed salary arrears amounting to Sh4.9 million.

The court heard that the embassy will have issued Mohammed a cheque of Sh2.9 million by March 16.

 The parties' lawyers also agreed to meet the Saudi Arabia Ambassador on this date to discuss the claimant's overtime, transport and house allowances.

Affidavits before court state that Mohammed's lawyer Yusuf Bashir wants a declaration that his employment contract with the embassy was grossly violated and that he was under-paid.

Mohammed worked as head of research and a translator.

“I want a declaration that the respondents owes me Sh10.5 million as salary arrears from my employment as a translator," he told the court.

Form his employment as head of research, he wants Sh12.9 million.

Mohammed also says the respondents owe him severance pay, as a translator for nine years, a sum of Sh4.9 million. They also owe him transport, overtime and house allowances and he wants exemplary damages for wrongful termination and one year's pay as well.

The former employee filed his case in 2015, saying he had worked for the embassy for 23 years.

“I was first employed by the embassy as a translator in 1995. However, my job description was not defined in my first employment contract," he added.

He claims the circumstances under which he was dismissed were inhumane and blatantly disrespectful of laws on the relationship between employers and employees.

“The respondents' actions breached the relevant provisions of Employment Act, 2006 as they discriminated against the claimant," the affidavit states.

Mohammed said he was issued with a new contract in 1998 but that the remuneration and job description was not that of a translator but of a telephone operator.

He raised the issue with the ambassador at the time, who informed him that he would correct the anomaly and that since everyone at the embassy knew he was a translator, not a telephone operator, the situation would be sorted out.

But he says two years went by without the rectification of the matter.

Mohammed says he was later told to be patient as a promotion would come up.

In May 2000, a new contract was issued - he was promoted from translator to head of research and translation. The only issue with the contract was that the clause on remuneration was left blank and the claimant informed that the gap would be filled with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Saudi Arabia.

“To the claimant's dismay, when the contract books were returned to the embassy, the salary clause had been erased and a sum equivalent to his previous salary written down," his lawyer said.

"This was despite his promotion and the contract clearly stating that he was the head of research and translation."

Mohammed stated that following his termination, he did not receive his pay, allowances for accrued leave days, his service pay and benefits after more than two decades at the embassy.

He says that despite the correction that was effected on his salary in the year 2008, the embassy has failed, neglected and or refused to pay him the salary arrears.

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