Woman sacked by Del Monte for ‘absenteeism’ seeks justice

Monday, July 27th, 2020 00:00 |
Hannah Wanjiru Gathogo.

 A woman from Thika, Kiambu county, is seeking justice after a multi-national company dismissed her from job.

Hannah Wanjiru Gathogo, 49, a former long-serving employee at Del Monte Kenya Ltd, a Kenyan food processing company says she was sacked after suffering prolonged illness.

She said the company, which she served  since 1997 subjected her to hard labour precipitating backbone complications among other health challenges.

After her situation deteriorated, the aggrieved woman said she was forced to stay at home to manage her worsening health when the company slapped her with a dismissal letter.

According to documents from Kenyatta National Hospital, Wanjiru suffered lower back pain, right knee pain, numbness of left knee, frequent urination and noises in the left ear. 

She said doctors advised her to avoid bearing children as her ‘critical bones’ cannot hold the weight of a baby.

Doctors also advised her to only handle light duties but the company failed to heed.

Wanjiru also claimed she underwent occasional sexual exploitation from her different bosses, cases she reported to higher authorities at the company with no action.

According to a letter seen by People Daily, Wanjiru was sacked in March 2019 over failure to report to work from February 25 to March 27.

“From available records, you have been absent from duty from  February 25 to date,” the letter. 

The company, in the dismissal letter, termed her absenteeism as a gross misconduct that informed her sacking pursuant to section 10 (a) (i) of the parties Collective Bargaining Agreement and Section 44 of Employment Act 2007.

Wanjiru now lives a deplorable life at Kisii Estate in Thika has turned to her tailoring skills as a source of livelihood.

The proceeds from the tailoring, she says cannot sustain costly medical checkups and lives on medication.

Sought for a comment, Del Monte Kenya management in a statement said, it does not discuss individual claims in the media.

The company, however, insisted that it adheres to strict policies against any form of harassment, sexual or otherwise, at the workplace.

“Over and above any claim being investigated and dealt with accordingly, local, and international social and ethical auditors carry out regular audits to ensure compliance,” read part of their statement.

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