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Kidero workers plan go-slow in Sh9.6bn pay row

Services in Nairobi will be paralysed from next Wednesday if county workers make good their threat to stage a go-slow over some Sh9.6 billion owed to them in salary arrears and pension contributions.

The Kenya County Government Workers Union on Tuesday informed the county secretary of the protests, piling pressure on City Hall that is struggling under mounting debts.

The workers are demanding salary arrears of Sh1.6 billion and the remittance of Sh8 billion due to their pension schemes, including the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

“We are afraid your failure to keep your side of the bargain has caused anxiety among the employees and therefore we invoke Section 17 of the Employment Act to demand the same by all workers at City Hall beginning January 14 until the issues raised are addressed conclusively,” said Nairobi branch secretary Festus Ngari in the letter.

NOT A STRIKE

“It’s not exactly a strike but a go-slow. We do not intend to paralyse all the services. For example, in the new-born units in Pumwani we may have two attendants rather than four. We may have just one ambulance instead of four on stand-by,” said Mr Ngari in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

He added that non-critical functions like garbage collection would be affected by the workers’ action.

In November, City Hall averted a workers strike after agreeing to pay Sh400 million within 10 days in salary arrears.

Nairobi has also agreed to pay another Sh600 million before the end of the year amid a cash crunch that has seen City Hall seek Sh4 billion loans from banks.

The pay spat comes as Nairobi fights a court suit challenging its plans to borrow Sh1.5 billion in bank overdrafts for timely salary payments and Sh2.5 billion for capital projects in the year to June.

Mr Ngari said a series of meetings in November and December between the county and the union had among others resolved that the outstanding arrears would be cleared before Christmas.

INEVITABLE

“This was not to be in which case industrial action is inevitable,” he added. “There are quite a number of officers who are retiring beginning January and the coming few months. This failure to remit the pension puts their livelihoods in jeopardy.”

By end of December, 304 workers were expected to retire. Another 1,500 are above 56 and will also be retiring in the next four years.

Records submitted to the County Assembly for the quarter ending September 2014 indicated that the county owed Laptrust Sh2.8 billion, Lapfund Sh580 million and NSSF Sh650 million.

The first quarter revenue and expenditure report shows that the county debts had grown to Sh15.4 billion, up from Sh13.9 billion in June.

Supplier dues grew to Sh2.4 billion in September, up from Sh981 million in June while amounts owed to the Kenya Revenue Authority for workers’ PAYE deductions jumped from Sh593.8 million to Sh1.47 billion.