Kenya Power drops workers layoff plan amid strike threat


Kenya Power Managing Director Bernard Ngugi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC has made a U-turn on plans to lay off an unspecified number of employees from its 10,481 workforce in a bid to defuse mounting pressure.

Managing director Bernard Ngugi said in a memo to staff on Friday that the electricity distributor has opted against the plan it was eyeing to cut costs and return to profitability.

The memo came after media reports indicated that the utility firm is seeking a consultant with the brief offering advice on staggered layoffs, as well as reduction of debts and electricity theft.

The combative Kenya Electrical Trades and Allied Workers Union (Ketawu)—which represents Kenya Power workers—threated a go slow over the job cut plans.

“We have put them under pressure to do this letter to reverse their early statement. We were even ready to go on strike on Monday (today) if they were not going to hear our plea,” said Mr Ernest Nadome, Ketawu secretary-general

This forced Kenya Power to promise a revision of the brief meant for the consultant to exclude the layoff bit.

“I would like to assure you that the company has no plans to lay off any staff member,” said Mr Ngugi in the memo.

“ The company will therefore make the requisite changes on the tender document to reflect this position.”

The loss-making electricity distributor had earlier said the restructuring plan had been informed by its current financial challenges which has affected its ability to run sustainably and deliver on its obligations to shareholders and the public.

“In a bid to turn around and transform the financial performance of the company; improve efficiency and enhance customer experience, KPLC....[is eyeing] phased reduction in workforce to ensure KPLC remains competitive and provides the right levels of service,” the company had said in internal documents seen by the Business Daily.

Kenya Power’s salaries and wages rose 9.1 per cent to Sh17.4 billion in the year ended June 2020 when its workforce shrank to 10,481 from 10,914 the year before.

The jump in payroll costs despite reduced staff numbers indicates that the salaries for those who remained on the payroll rose significantly.