Court stops Barclays from closing its regional centre

Judge grants orders in an urgent application filed by 21 employees who are challenging the shut down.

Friday March 18 2016

Barclays Bank headquarters in Canary Wharf, east London. British bank Barclays said on March 1, 2016, that net losses more than doubled last year and announced plans to gradually reduce its majority stake in the group's African unit. The Employment and Labour Relations court has temporarily stopped Barclays Bank from shutting down its regional office in Nairobi by the end of this month, and declaring some staff redundant. PHOTO | AFP

Barclays Bank headquarters in Canary Wharf, east London. British bank Barclays said on March 1, 2016, that net losses more than doubled last year and announced plans to gradually reduce its majority stake in the group's African unit. The Employment and Labour Relations court has temporarily stopped Barclays Bank from shutting down its regional office in Nairobi by the end of this month, and declaring some staff redundant. PHOTO | AFP 

By ABIUD OCHIENG
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The Employment and Labour Relations court has temporarily stopped Barclays Bank from shutting down its regional office in Nairobi by the end of this month, and declaring some staff redundant.

Judge Monica Mbaru on Thursday granted the orders in an urgent application filed by 21 employees who are challenging the planned shut down before redundancy discussions are concluded.

The staff, through lawyer Charles Kanjama, said their constitutional and legal rights had been gravely threatened and are likely to be violated if Barclays Bank of Kenya Ltd, and Barclays Africa Group Ltd are allowed to proceed with the intended closure of its regional office by March 31.

“The petitioners have received information that BBKL and BAGL intend to bring forward the closure of the Nairobi regional office to before Easter, any time from now in March 2016, despite the collapse of the redundancy discussions with the employees,” said Mr Kanjama.

He said the orders are necessary to prevent BBKL and BAGL from stealing a match on its employees by closing down the Barclays Africa Regional Office prior to agreeing on the redundancy package with the employees who will be sent home and complying with all other legal and regulatory requirements.

CONSTITUTION VIOLATION

Lawyer Kanjama said the pair has purported to conduct redundancy process involving 21 employees, but has violated the letter and spirit of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 and the affected employee’s legitimate expectations by the manner in which they (bank) have conducted the process.

The employees are also aggrieved by the BBKL and BAGL’s lack of transparency on the criteria they are using for selection and determination of redundancy package.

The planned closure of the regional office comes after an announcement by British banking giant Barclays Plc on March 1 confirmed its planned exit from the African market, even though the local unit of the British lender gave guarantees to its customers that it is not leaving Kenya.

Barclays chief executive Jes Staley brought to an end months of speculation, stating that the lender would sell its 62.3 per cent interest in the African business - BAGL, over the coming two to three years.

The aim was to reduce its interest in Barclays Africa to a non-controlling, non-consolidated position over the next 2-3 years.

This is, however, subject to required shareholder and regulatory approvals.

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