• The union argued that his medical cover was equally suspended and has not been reinstated.
• Opetu had applied for a study leave to pursue a one-year course of higher diploma in psychiatric nursing at Mathare campus.
The Employment and Labour Relations Court has awarded Kenya National Union of Nurses deputy secretary of Maurice Opetu Sh1.5 million for salary and discrimination at workplace.
The award includes Sh1,047,760 for his eight months unpaid salary and Sh500,000 for being discriminated against by his employer-Kisumu County Referral Hospital. Justice Christine Baari awarded the unionist in her judgment dated June 22.
KNUN had sued the county government of Kisumu on behalf of Opetu, a senior psychiatric unit nurse, for unlawfully withholding his salary from the time he resumed duty on September 4, 2021 to April 2022.
KNUN argued that Opetu had never been suspended from duty, yet his salary was stopped without reason.
The union argued that his medical cover was equally suspended and has not been reinstated. Opetu had applied for a study leave to pursue a one-year course of higher diploma in psychiatric nursing at Mathare campus.
The union said that although Opetu had applied for study leave alongside two other officers, the two had not been subjected to any disciplinary action by the county.
The county argued that it rightly withheld the salary of the unionist as he had absconded duty by going on leave without an official communication and even refusing to return after he was summoned.
The court said that Opetu was discriminated against, for having been treated differently from those he was in a similar situation with.
“Opetu’s refusal to return to work upon being recalled was an act of insubordination and hence our decision to stop his salary was lawfully made. It was made in accordance with Section K.8 of the Public Service Commission Human Resources Policy and Manual and Section D.20 of the County Public Service Human Resources Manual,” argued the county.
“Minutes of a meeting held on November 16, 2020, indicate that approval for study leave was made for the grievant (Opetu) and for other two employees of the Kisumu County Public Service Board, namely; Sharon Liz Mito and Lilian Atieno Oduodo,” Justice Baari said.
“Although the county’s witness told the court that the other employees who had together with Opetu applied for study leave had been issued with release letters, none of these letters was produced to confirm this position. The witness also admitted that the rest of the applicants went for training and did not say they too had been disciplined or penalised in any manner,” judge Baari said.