City Hall workers, county squabble over staff suspensions

October 4, 2017 1:05 pm
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An exterior shot of the City Hall front entrance/COURTESY

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 4 – The workers’ union at the Nairobi County Government has threatened to go on strike after offices affecting staff sent on compulsory leave were locked.

Governor Mike Sonko suspended the employees from the legal, licensing, debt collection, rates and physical planning departments for allegedly deleting rate records and colluding with courts to issue eviction orders.

The Kenya County Government Workers Union however equated the move to “Industrial action commenced by the employer on its employees” with Nairobi Branch Secretary Boniface Waweru saying no notice was given for the punitive action and it was not communicated to the union.

“Your action is an affront to the good industrial relations we have developed over the years. Your action amounts to an unfair labour practice which is contrary to the provisions of Article 41 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Such a practice cannot be entertained in a country governed by the rule of law,” he said.

“With respect to the foregoing, we demand for the immediate re-opening of the locked offices. The said (suspension) letters should be revoked forthwith.”

He called for an end to harassment of workers by ‘rogue officers’ who employ intimidation tactics.

“We further demand that you stop sending rogue officers to harass our members working in the entire Nairobi County. Be warned that any such strangers shall be treated with the utmost contempt and as criminals if found in any office where our members work,” he stated.

He further demanded that the governor should call a meeting to resolve the dispute as early as possible.

Legal Services Director Karisa Iha, senior lawyers Nyagara Nyamweya, Violet Oyangi, Evans Mogire, John Ombogi and principal counsel Newton Mungala are among those who received letters sending them on compulsory leave.

At the same time, Sonko also suspended the entire Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) board of directors and directed it not to hold any meeting pending investigations.

“We are in receipt of allegations of misconduct by the board of Director at the water company,” a letter signed by acting County Secretary Leboo Morintat read in parts.

They are Chairman Raphael Nzomo his deputy Joan Mwangi Yelbert and board members Samuel Ojanga, Philip Arungah, Kennedy Omoke, Engineer Christine Ogut, Kennedy Wanyama, Lawrence Ouma, Rosemary Khamati, Gregory Mwakanongo and Mercy Mutua.

Last month, the water firm’s managing director Engineer Philip Gichuki was sent on terminal leave five months before the expiry of his contract.

The board of directors also declined to renew the contract of Gichuki and three other directors who include Stephen Mbugua, Johnson Randu and Rosemary Kijana.

Technical Director Nahason Muguna was appointed by the board in an acting capacity.

Gichuki had faulted the board decision saying his contract expires in 2019 and not January 18, 2018 as indicated in the letter.

Nzomo had accused Kenya County Government Workers Union of orchestrating the move as they are opposed to the changes initiated by the board.

Gichuki woes emanated from a revelation that plans to sell the water to a French firm were mooted at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation offices.

Appearing before a County Assembly Water and Sanitation Committee Gichuki said that a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was presented to him at Casablanca, Morocco while on a bench marking trip.

The trip, he said, was planned during the launch of the drilling of 40 boreholes that were meant to address the water crisis in Nairobi.

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