Protesting City Hall casuals asked to wait a little longer for their unpaid wages
Nairobi County government casual labourers on Monday held demonstrations protesting the county government’s failure to clear outstanding wages amounting to Sh62 million owed to them.
The more than 850 casual workers drawn from across the 85 wards in Nairobi took to the streets seeking payment for their wages.
The casuals, led by Fazia Karaz from Utawala, said that they had not been paid wages since July 2019.
They said they have been engaged in the beautification programme and garbage collection activities across the county but they had not been paid for the past nine months.
Ms Karaz said that they were contracted last year in April to unclog drainage within Nairobi for a Sh30,000 monthly pay.
“We signed the contracts through our ward administrators and they asked us to indicate our phone numbers and ID numbers. When we started in April we were told we will be on probation for three months before getting permanent jobs but still get paid,” she explained.
But while responding to the protesting workers, Governor Mike Sonko has defended his administration over failure to pay casuals engaged with the county government.
Sonko said that City Hall only owes the casuals three months of wages and not the purported nine months.
He stated that the casuals were engaged under the Nairobi beautification project, which he was paying from his pocket, before the programme was formalised and put under the county government granting each casual worker a three months renewable contract.
However, the programme was suspended at the end of November last year and the months that had not been paid for are September, October and November.
“My attention has been drawn to reports circulating to the effect that there are Nairobi City County casual workers who worked and were not paid for a period of nine (9) months. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Mr Sonko in a statement read by his spokesperson Ben Mulwa.
“All the casual workers under the project will confirm that they received their last payment in September,” he said.
Reached for comment, Nairobi County Chief Officer for Finance Halkano Waqo acknowledged the non-payment saying the casuals had been under-budgeted for last year.
“The workers have done extraordinary work which speaks for itself but unfortunately we cannot pay them outside the budget. That is why they have been factored in the upcoming supplementary budget to be tabled before the assembly this week,” said Mr Waqo.
THREE MONTHS WAGES
Governor Sonko said his administration’s failure to clear the three months wages arose from the revocation of the previous Supplementary Budget was degazetted by the Government Printer on the recommendation of the Solicitor General, for failure by the Assembly to follow the law.
Nonetheless, he said the county government will clear the outstanding balance soon as funds towards the same have been factored in a new Supplementary Appropriation Bill that will be presented to the Nairobi County Assembly any time this week.
“I wish to urge all the affected workers to be patient as we work to ensure that their outstanding dues are paid in full,” he said.
The City Hall boss pointed out that the programme has been a success growing from an individual initiative to involving at least 10 youths identified from each of the 85 wards in Nairobi.
This, he said, saw hundreds of youths engaged in the project while roping in all the 85 elected MCAs into the programme now dubbed “10 over 10”.
Mr Sonko claimed that the protest could be the handiwork of MCAs against his administration who have now politicised the noble initiative.
“I also wish to condemn the few MCAs inciting those who were enrolled into the program, and desist from politicizing an important project that has gone a long way in beautifying Nairobi while at the same time providing employment to thousands of our youth and women in all the 85 wards,” Sonko said.