Counties

Nairobi staff reject job cuts scheme, demand Sh42bn

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County workers clean the polluted Nairobi River on February 22, 2019. PHOTO | POOL

Nairobi County staff union has rejected a planned roll-out of early voluntary retirement demanding that workers’ pension scheme be paid Sh42 billion owed to them.

The workers are now demanding for full settlement of retirement benefits as well as a pension due to Laptrust and Lapfund, which are owed billions of shillings from City Hall’s failure to remit workers monthly pension deductions.

Kenya County Governments Workers Union Nairobi branch Secretary Festus Ngari said the county government should first clear money owed to those who naturally retired between 2018 and 2020 and those set to do so in 2021.

He said that City Hall is yet to clear Sh19 billion Local Authority Pension Trust (Laptrust) debt as well as Sh23 billion Local Authority Pension Fund (Lapfund).

Further, Mr Ngari pointed out that the county government still owes those who exited City Hall through natural attrition Sh175 million in form of gratuities, coffin costs, terminal leave dues and other benefits.

“What can allocation of Sh175 million do to workers against Sh42 billion owed to them? Do you have your priorities right?” posed Mr Ngari.

“We demand that Deputy Governor Ann Kananu pay workers’ dues both current and past and allow the existing law to take its rightful course,” he added.

The move by the Union comes after City Hall announced setting aside Sh175 million towards roll-out of early voluntary retirement of its aged staff as well as payment of terminal benefits owed to the county government’s retirees.

The amount is part of the county government’s second supplementary budget approved by the Nairobi County Assembly last month.

But Mr Ngari has criticised the move accusing the county government of unfair labour practice “with impunity and disregard of labour laws and good industrial deeds”.

He argued that the constitution does not discriminate nor marginalise workers based on age. In fact, he said, people living with disability work up to 65 years, lecturers seven years and judges up to 72 years.

“While the stable productive life at 50 years is respected under international statutes, are you saying you will be exception to the rest of global industry practice?” he posed.

This is not the first time the county government is rolling out a similar plan. In 2018 under former Governor Mike Sonko only 400 workers voluntarily leave the county government between July 2018 and January 2019 despite plans to retire 731 county employees during the current 2018/19 financial year.

A biometric report released in November 2019 showed despite the acute youth unemployment in the country, only 14 per cent of City Hall workers were below the age of 35 years representing 792 of the 11,603 employees.

This prompted City Hall to request for an allocation of Sh100 million to commence roll-out of the voluntary early retirement scheme, saying the move is meant to reinvigorate an aging workforce at the county government as well as reduce its bloated wage bill.