They hinge their claim 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.”

The workers reckon that Airtel may rely on the Telkom Kenya notice to frustrate their claims.

Those opposed to the deal say the merge will create a separate firm to run the core business of mobile telephony, leaving a shell firm that would struggle to clear their Sh1 billion claim should they win the employment row.

“It means the companies to be left behind will be shells of themselves well incapable of taking care of their expenditures because the core businesses taken away were their pillars,” say the ex-Airtel workers.

The merged company will combine their respective mobile, enterprise and carrier services businesses in Kenya to operate as Airtel-Telkom, both firms said in an earlier statement.

The merger deal will not involve Telkom Kenya’s extensive real estate holdings and some government contracts for unspecified services, the company said.

Telkom accounted for 7.9 percent of Kenyan mobile telecom subscribers in March, behind second-placed Airtel, which had a 26.1 percent market share.

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