Kenya Power's staff count has dropped by 1,400 in under nine months on exit by an ageing workforce and natural attrition, throwing the firm into a recruitment drive.
The power distributor discloses that it had 8,443 employees by last November compared with 9,843 in February last year and 10,177 it had at the end of June 2021, marking the fifth straight year of falling staff size.
The most affected is Nairobi where 874 or 60 percent of the 2,322 workers it had by June 2021 have left. This is followed by the Central office that includes Stima Plaza with headcount falling by 439 or 36 percent.
The disclosures are contained in a November 2022 tender document in which Kenya Power is seeking a consultant to carry out a survey on staff satisfaction, engagement and productivity.
Kosgey Kolil, deputy general-secretary at Kenya Electrical Trades and Allied Workers Union (Ketawu) told the Business Daily that the cohort of its members employed by Kenya Power between 1990-1992 is now aged and started retiring en masse from July last year.
“The drop is mainly due to retirement and natural attrition. There is a big group of workers that were employed in 1990 and 1991 as well as early 1992. Most of them are retiring,” said Mr Kolil.
“The exits will continue. It is expected that by April, about 510 other employees will have retired and a further 800 by June. The bulk of those exiting are craftsmen, artisans and technicians.”
The staff retirements look set to naturally solve Kenya Power’s plan to let go of 1,962 workers by June this year but the utility firm will now have to start fresh recruitment to avoid disruption of services.
Kenya Power has seen its customer numbers rise from 2.02 million in June 2012 to 8.3 million at the end of June 2021, translating into the quadrupling of customers in nine years.
Mr Kolil said a meeting between Ketawu and Kenya Power had resolved that the utility firm will be recruiting about 400 new employees annually for the next five years to meet the approved staffing level of 13,419.
About 392 workers will be recruited this January with employees already serving on short-term contracts given priority, according to Ketawu.
The utility firm’s workforce has been dropping since the 2018/19 financial year. The November figure means Kenya Power's staff size has shrunk by 2,852 since the peak of 11,295 workers by the end of June 2017.
But the fall in staff numbers, due to death, termination, expiry of contracts, resignations and retirement has seen no fall in salaries and wages.
In the 2016/2017 financial year, Kenya Power spent Sh14.94 billion on salaries and wages and forked out Sh16.98 billion in the 2020/2021 financial year despite staff numbers having dropped by 1,118.
Kenya Power last year said its average staff turnover was at 4.26 per cent, terming this as below the “ideal benchmark” of 10 percent.
The power distributor said the low attrition rate has meant an ageing and expensive workforce that has seen staff cost grow at nearly twice the rate of revenue growth.
The firm, in February last year had 9,843 employees and estimated that it would require about Sh14.1 billion for salaries and wages.
Wages and salaries made up 42.6 per cent of Kenya Power’s operating expenses in the year ended June 2021.