City staff salaries battle heads to court - Daily Nation

Striking Nairobi staff, SRC to meet in court over salaries

Sunday February 17 2019

Nairobi County staff strike

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko (not pictured) addresses county staff following their strike that began on February 12, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By COLLINS OMULO
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The standoff between City Hall workers and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) is now headed to the corridors of justice.

The workers, who downed their tools on February 12 , have vowed to stay away until their demands for a salary increase are met.

Benson Olianga, Nairobi branch secretary of the Kenya County Government Workers Union (KCGWU), said on Sunday that they received a letter from the SRC asking them to appear before the Labour court on Monday.

"The SRC has taken us to court but I do not know for what reasons because they are not clear in their application. They are saying they are an intended interested party," Mr Olianga said on Monday.

"The strike is still on and we will not be at work tomorrow (Monday). We will report at City Hall for a small briefing then march to court. We will halt our demonstrations so that the entire workforce goes there."

'NO CASE'

The secretary said the letter said the case will be before Justice Maureen Onyango of the Employment and Labour Relations Court.

“We will hear what they want to say. I have never heard of being an intended interested party in a non-existent case. The copy of the letter is with our main office,” he said.

Mr Olianga noted that they met Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani to resolve the matter but that the session was unsuccessful as he termed the standoff a unique case which lacks the usual disagreement between the employer and employees.

“Last Friday, CS Yatani was tongue-tied because he could not find a way of arbitrating our case. He said it was abnormal as all the cases have had disagreements, [but not this one]."

PARALYSIS

The go slow has led to paralysis in operations at various departments at the county government as those in the protest include cleaners, clinicians, casual labourers as well as rates and parking attendants.

Among those not going to work are also weepers, contractors, cemetery workers and those who plant trees, cut grass and unblock drainages.

Only a handful of offices remained open as the strike persisted, with the workers blaming the SRC for their woes, accusing it of being against their negotiated collective bargaining agreement.

“There is no turning back. We will continue with the strike until the SRC issue us with a letter for our 15 per cent salary increment,” said Mr Olianga.

The workers and their leaders have been camping outside City Hall and also marching to SRC offices in Upper Hill, vowing to report back to duty only after their return-two-work formula is implemented.

PLEA

On Wednesday, services at City Mortuary were grounded as a large percentage of attendants joined the strike,

In the central business district, cleaners, parking attendants and gardeners were nowhere to be seen.

On Tuesday, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko appealed to the workers to go back to work, assuring them that his administration would honour the agreement.

He also blamed SRC for the standoff, accusing it of rejecting the deal entered in May 2017, although the county had set aside some funds in its supplementary budget to honour the deal.

However, the situation did not get any better on Thursday and Friday as most of the departments still lacked personnel, who protested outside the City Hall Annex and were teargassed by police.

DEMANDS

The workers are demanding salary increment of between 15 and 28 percent salary increment translating to approximately Sh100 million, in an agreement signed in May 2017 that City Hall had promised would be effected last month.

The CBA was registered before Labour court’s Judge Nelson Abuodha, paving way for workers from all cadres to get a pay increment of at least 15 percent and all that was remaining was the implementation.

The registration ended a protracted negotiation that started in 2015. Under the terms of the agreement, the pay rise was to take effect in 2017/2018 financial year, but that never happened even though the county set aside Sh800 million to cater for the CBA.

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