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CONTESTED LAYOFFS

Union rejects Sonko's voluntary retirement plan

Says it is a plot to remove all staff inherited from defunct local authorities

In Summary

• Union says it is a plan to lay off people so they can hire their cronies 

• Targets people aged 50 and above ostensibly to improve services, reduce wage bill

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko during the 4th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Gigiri on March 14
RETRENCHMENT: Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko during the 4th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Gigiri on March 14
Image: COURTESY

A workers' union has rejected a plan by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko to send county employees on early voluntary retirement without pay.

Last year, Sonko announced plans to retire the county’s aging workforce to reduce the wage bill which currently stands at Sh1.3 billion per month.

Kenya County Government Workers Union secretary general Roba Duba on Thursday termed the scheme unlawful and outrageous. 

He was concerned the planned retrenchment disguised as voluntary retirement scheme only targets employees inherited from the defunct local authorities.

“The plan by Governor Sonko is illegal and it won’t work because we will not accept it. Their idea is to lay off people so they can employ their cronies,” Duba told a press conference on Thursday.

Speaking at the union’s office in Nairobi, he asked why Sonko was hell-bent on retiring staff yet the county has not remitted more than Sh20 billion to statutory firms for their pensions. 

“The only time a county can retrench or layoff staff is when it is bankrupt, it has been liquidated or its offices have been closed but no such thing has happened to City Hall. The correct procedure as provided for by the law is that the county should give a statement of intent when retrenching staff but again this has not happened."

Duba said Nairobi branch union officials and county employees are being threatened, harassed and intimidated to accept the scheme.

“The county hasn’t factored in how they will survive without their pension. Both parties need to agree on a formula for retrenchment which includes payment of dues owed,” he said.

Last year, Sonko announced that the voluntary early retirement exercise was to cost Sh1.5 billion. 

 

He said the programme targeting staff aged 50 years and above was aimed at improving services to the city residents while simultaneously capping the wage bill.

City Hall had already received the funds from the national government to enable it to compensate those who will take up the offer, he said. 

“No one will be forced to retire if they feel they have the energy to continue being productive. We estimate that the cost of the voluntary retirement will be expensive but we will find a way to make it successful,” he said.

Out of approximately 12,000 county workers, 70 per cent are aged, translating to poor or lack of efficient service delivery.

In February, then acting county secretary Pauline Kahiga revealed that approximately 400 workers had voluntarily left City Hall between July last year and January. 

Edited by R.Wamochie