Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has suffered a major blow in his efforts to put his government in order, after a court ordered him to reinstate 115 county employees whom he had sent on compulsory leave when he assumed office.
The Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nakuru on Thursday said the governor’s decision to send them on compulsory leave was unconstitutional.
Justice Stephen Radido, in his judgment on a petition filed by the workers, said the governor did not follow due process.
“The petitioners are hereby directed to resume office and have full access to their work stations since the court finds their removal from office to be unconstitutional and unfair,” ruled justice Radido.
The 115 ward administrators were among county officials sent on compulsory leave to tame the burgeoning wage bill standing at Sh5.5 billion.
The increased wage bill was blamed on having too many employees, among them staff inherited from the defunct Municipal Council and the national government at the advent of devolution.
The workers moved to court on August 31, seeking to challenge the governor’s decision.
Through their lawyer Mr Gordon Ogolla, they accused the new county boss of maliciously and irregularly ordering them to proceed on compulsory leave without subjecting them to any disciplinary action.
The county government, however, said it had followed due process.
According to county secretary Benjamin Njoroge, the move was meant to prevent the employees from compromising investigations.
The court faulted the submissions, saying the county government had failed to cite the contractual basis relied on to send the petitioners on compulsory leave.
Justice Radido directed the employees to cooperate in the investigations being conducted by the county government.