Workers give Sonko three days to clear Sh18bn debt

Monday September 4 2017

Nairobi governor Mike Sonko in his office at City Hall, Nairobi. County workers have threatened to down tools if the county government does not clear dues owed to them (workers) by September 5. PHOTO | COURTESY

Nairobi governor Mike Sonko in his office at City Hall, Nairobi. County workers have threatened to down tools if the county government does not clear dues owed to them (workers) by September 5. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By LILLIAN MUTAVI
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Nairobi County workers have given Governor Mike Sonko until Wednesday to clear a debt of Sh18 billion the county owes them in unpaid statutory deductions and last month’s salary.

County Government Workers Union secretary general, Nairobi branch, Benson Olianga said the union expects the workers to be paid by September 5.

Mr Olianga said that the former government owes the workers Sh11 billion for Laptrust, Sh6 billion for Lapfund, over Sh500,000 in penalties for NHIF and NSSF deductions and Sh1.2 billion for salaries.

He said the union will issue a notice of strike on Thursday if they are not paid.

FAST TRACK PAYMENTS

Governor Sonko said in a statement that a meeting with the union officials last week was fruitful and he would fast track the payments owed to workers.

“It was an eye-opening experience listening to the challenges they have been grappling with. The last time employees were promoted was four years ago. The county owes current and former employees close to Sh18 billion in unremitted statutory deductions. This has caused untold suffering especially for those who have to pay from their pockets for treatment covered under NHIF. It has also caused untold suffering to retirees,” said Mr Sonko.

The governor said he will improve working conditions and change terms of service that have greatly demoralised staff, affecting service delivery.

He said that the county government will implement the collective bargaining agreement and ensure timely payment of salaries.

SCEPTICAL

Mr Sonko added he will undertake a comprehensive human resource audit to fast track promotions and salary reviews.

“Under my administration, there shall be representatives from the workers’ union in all deliberations touching on workers’ plight. It was evident that lack of participation and inclusiveness negatively affected the  workers,” said Mr Sonko.

Mr Olianga was, however, sceptical Governor Sonko will be able to fulfill his pledge to pay the workers by Monday, saying the county is facing a financial crisis.

“We are waiting to see how the governor will pull this off by Monday as he promised seeing that he does not have money in the county,” said Mr Olianga.

He said that the governor had promised small traders not to tax them during his campaigns resulting in low flow of cash.