The deployment of over 6,000 Nairobi County staff to Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) has kicked off despite opposition from Governor Mike Sonko and the workers’ union officials.
The workers, affected by transferred functions, turned out in large numbers at Uhuru Park to receive their redeployment letters amid heavy presence of the General Service Unit (GSU) and the National Youth Service.
This comes after Public Service Commission (PSC) on Friday directed 6,052 county staff to present themselves this week for their secondment to NMS office.
This was opposed by Governor Sonko who asked the workers to ignore the directive, arguing that it violated the national government’s directive on public gatherings, a position that was supported by union officials.
Sonko went on to accuse unnamed individuals at State House of hijacking the implementation of the Deed of Transfer for their selfish gains, claiming that the Nairobi County Public Service Board and not PSC, has the mandate of notifying county staff of any deployment.
NMS Director-General Mohammed Badi, nonetheless, laughed off the claims, saying that the Deed of Transfer of functions signed on February 25, 2020 at State House gave his office total control over all the transferred functions.
“He (Sonko) signed the agreement at state House for the transfer of the four functions now under NMS and I took over on March 18, 2020. The (county) assembly also approved the transfer of everything, not just the staff, but also their assets including vehicles and offices during a special sitting,” said Mr Badi.
The NMS director-general said the exercise will go on up to Friday, April 10, 2020, where they intend to have handed over letters to 3,000 workers at a rate of 600 staff daily.
He explained that the exercise was to be done for two days only but because of the dusk-to-dawn curfew restrictions, they have extended it for three more days since the workers have to be released early.
Mr Badi further stated that the remaining staff, who are from the public health department and are in the front-line in the fight against the coronavirus, will not have to present themselves at Uhuru Park as they will be issued with their letters at their workstations.
“We expect to enrol 600 staff today (Monday) before curfew deadline. The process will go on up to Friday at a time when we will have listed 3,000 of them. The remaining staff will continue with their duties and my staff will issue them with letters from their workstations,” he said.
He said the event was shifted from the earlier planned venue of Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) to Uhuru Park so as to allow for the adherence of the 1.5-metre social distancing rule.
The workers turned out in face masks while also maintaining social distance by queueing on marked spots at the park.
Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi said a meeting between the workers’ union officials and NMS will be held to give them a chance to air their grievances.
She said the meeting, to be held any time this week, will be a platform for the workers, through their leaders, to meet Mr Badi as well as get to plan ahead as the county embraces change in leadership.
“We know there are a number of challenges faced by the workers but we will plan for a meeting where the union leaders will get a chance to talk with the director-general and address the challenges,” said Ms Elachi.
The Nairobi County Government Workers Union had called for the deployment exercise to be suspended until issues raised in their return to work formula agreed on with City Hall in February are fully addressed.