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City Hall workers, SRC standoff now headed to the courts

The standoff between City Hall workers and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) is now headed to the corridors of justice.

This after the workers vowed not to return to work until their demands for a salary increase are met.

Kenya County Government Workers Union (KCGWU) Nairobi branch secretary Benson Olianga said that they have received a letter from the salaries commission informing them to appear before the Labour Relations court on Monday.

“The strike is still on and we will not be at work tomorrow (Monday). We will report at City Hall for a small briefing then we will march to the court. We will halt our demonstrations so that all of us, the entire workforce, will go there.

“SRC has taken us to court and I do not know for what reasons because they are not clear in their application. They are saying that they are an intended interested party,” added Mr Olianga on Sunday.

He said that the letter shows that the case will be mentioned tomorrow (Monday) before Justice Maureen Onyango of the Labour Relations Court.

OPERATIONS PARALYZED

“We will hear what they want to say. I have never heard of being an intended interested party in a non-existent case. The copy of the letter is with our main office,” he said.

Mr Olianga said that they have even met Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani to resolve the matter but he was not successful as he termed the standoff a unique case which lacks the usual disagreement between the employer and the employees.

“Last week on Friday, we were before CS Yattani and he was tongue-tied because he could not find a way of arbitrating our case. He said it was abnormal as all the cases have had disagreements but this one, the employer and the employee is one,” he said.

Monday will mark a week since the workers downed their tools maintaining that they will continue with their strike until SRC gives into their demands.

The go slow has led to paralysis in operations at various departments at the county government as the workers including cleaners, clinicians, casual labourers as well as the rates and parking attendants boycotted work.

Also on strike are sweepers, contractors, cemetery workers and who plant trees and cut grass and unblocking drainages.

PROTESTING WORKERS

Only a handful of offices at the county remained open as the protesting workers remained true to their stance of not going back to work as they continue to blame Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) for their woes.

The workers have placed the blame squarely on the doorsteps of the salaries commission accusing them of being against the negotiated CBA.

The county staff together with their leaders, have been camping outside City Hall and also marching to SRC offices in Upper Hill, have vowed not to return to work until a return to work formula agreed with the county is implemented.

On Wednesday, services at City Mortuary were grounded with only few mortuary attendants available with a huge percentage of them joining the strike.

In the Central Business District (CBD), cleaners and parking attendants were nowhere to be seen as well as those working on the city’s drainages and planting of grass.

The situation did not get any better on Thursday and Friday as most of the departments are still lacking personnel as they protested outside City Hall Annex before being dispersed after being teargased.

SALARY INCREMENT

On Tuesday last week, Governor Mike Sonko appealed to the striking workers to go back to work assuring them that his administration will honour the agreement.

He also blamed SRC for the standoff, accusing it of rejecting the deal entered in May 2017, although the county had set aside some funds in its supplementary budget to honour the deal.

The workers are demanding salary increment of between 15 and 28 percent salary increment translating to approximately Sh100 million, in an agreement signed in May 2017 that City Hall had promised would be effected last month.

The CBA was registered before Labour court’s Judge Nelson Abuodha, paving way for workers from all cadres to get a pay increment of at least 15 percent and all that was remaining was the implementation.

The registration ended a protracted negotiation that started in 2015. Under the terms of the agreement, the pay rise was to take effect in 2017/2018 financial year, but that never happened even though the county set aside Sh800 million to cater for the CBA.