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Kirinyaga County sacks casual health workers over wage bill

Thursday April 25 2019

Prisoners clean Kerugoya Hospital

Prisoners clean Kerugoya Hospital on April 25, 2019 after the Kirinyaga County government sacked casual health workers citing a huge wage bill. Following the sackings, the county's health sector has been thrown into crisis. PHOTO | GEORGE MUNENE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GEORGE MUNENE
By GEORGE MUNENE
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Over 200 casual health workers have been laid off by the Kirinyaga County government in a bid to reduce the ballooning wage bill.

The move has prompted protests by the workers who accused the county government of sacking them without releasing their four-month salaries.

They were relieved of their duties on Wednesday and told to go home as the Governor Anne Waiguru administration could not afford to pay them.

Some of the hospitals affected by the layoffs are Kerugoya, Kianyaga, Kimbimbi and Sagana where majority of the residents seek treatment.

LOOMING CRISIS

A nurse who declined to be named for fear of victimisation said a major crisis is looming in all hospitals following the decision taken by the county government.

"Casual workers play a key role in the running of the hospitals and there will be problems," said the nurse.

In a notice dated April 24 and issued by the County Secretary Joe Muriuki, the government said the wage bill was unsustainable and the issue was serious.

Sacked casual health workers protest

Some of the sacked casual health workers protest at the Kerugoya Hospital on April 25, 2019. PHOTO | GEORGE MUNENE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

"Due to high wage bill we have been forced to institute immediate staff rationalisation measures and as part of these efforts the government has laid off the workers," said Mr Muriuki.

He said only the very essential workers had been temporarily retained in the crucial health Sector.

HIRING HALTED

The county government also reiterated that it had stopped recruiting new casual health workers until further notice.

Mr Muriuki assured the sacked workers that they will be paid all their dues upon the approval of the supplementary budget.

But the workers accused the government of treating them unfairly and being unrealistic.

"How does the government expect us to survive after sending us home without paying us even a cent? asked Ms Esther Wanjiru.

The workers threatened to demonstrate against Governor Waiguru if they are not paid their dues soon and reinstated.

They said during the tenure of the former county administration they worked without problems and wondered why the current regime has sacked them.

"Is this government broke?” asked another worker.