Sonko, union fight transfer of 6,000 staff to new city agency

Wednesday May 13 2020

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko with county officials during a past executives' meeting at City Hall. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Barely three weeks into office, Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Director-General Mohamed Badi is facing a battle that could make or break his nascent administration.

A titanic battle is brewing between the military man and Governor Mike Sonko and the workers’ union.

The standoff is about the deployment of county staff to NMS. On Friday, the Public Service Commission ordered the deployment of 6,052 county workers to report to the new office this week.
Drawn from the transferred functions, the staff will now be under PSC.


Moreover, the Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua, last month seconded 32 senior officers — chief officers, directors and secretaries — to NMS, a move that left county ministers and other top officials in a limbo.

These decisions seem to have angered Mr Sonko and union officials, who have vowed to take the war to the doorsteps of the Air Force major-general.

The beleaguered City Hall boss has fired the first salvo by calling on the county staff to ignore the letter and threats by the PSC.

He said the county’s board will advise on the procedure of the secondment, “in a manner that shall address all their concerns as raised by the Nairobi City County Government Workers Union (NCGWU)”.

“All Nairobi County government employees are hereby directed to ignore any further communication regarding the transfer of functions from any quarters whatsoever, whenever that communication is not in writing and copied to the Governor and the County Secretary,” said Mr Sonko.


He said NMS and PSC have no jurisdiction over county employees.

The governor said the agreement did not amount to a takeover or dissolution of the county government.

“A few overzealous individuals in the national government have chosen to break all known laws and the provisions of the Deed of Transfer, to pursue their narrow and myopic interests at the expense of the goodwill and good intentions of the agreement,” said Mr Sonko.

“Evidently, there are a few individuals who have chosen to hijack the noble mission that the President and I embarked on to move Nairobi forward, but I wish to assure them that their sinister motives shall not succeed and will never happen under my watch,” said the Governor.

Mr Sonko said the deal was clear on the channel of communication between the levels of government, which he claimed had been disregarded by individuals from the national government.
Unorthodox channels

They have continued to summon, call for meetings with and issue directives to county employees through phone calls, SMS, WhatsApp and other unorthodox channels, and deliberately excluding him, he added.

Union officials echoed Mr Sonko’s concerns, saying the secondment of employees is the responsibility of the employer, not PSC.

They also raised concerns at the speed at which the transfer of functions is being implemented without compliance with the law.

“The purpose of this letter is to demand, which we hereby do, that the said exercise be forthwith held in abeyance/suspended until the issues we raised in our previous letter are fully addressed and proper precautionary measures are taken to avert them from contracting coronavirus,” stated the union.

However, the county assembly seems to be fully behind Maj-Gen Badi.

On Thursday, it approved the transfer of more than Sh15 billion to NMS towards the delivery of transferred functions falling under the new office under the Supplementary Appropriations Bill, 2020.

The MCAs agreed that going forward, payment of salaries for county staff will be undertaken by PSC for the next three months to enable the “clean up and reorganisation” of the payroll in line with the transfer of functions.