In Summary
  • Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya on Monday said there is nothing they can do now to avert the strike, so they will wait it out.
  • The Senate proposes that counties should get Sh335 billion from Treasury, but the National Assembly says that figure should be trimmed down to Sh316 billion.

A public service crisis of monumental proportions looms in at least 20 counties starting today as staff embark on a go-slow to demand payment of their July salaries, the culmination of a debilitating standoff between the National Assembly and the Senate over the Division of Revenue Bill.

Aggrieved workers have, through the Kenya County Government Workers Union (KCGWU), vowed to disrupt normal operations by staging pay parades and go-slows until their dues are fully paid.

With Parliament on recess, it is not clear how soon their grievances will be addressed.

The counties say they do not have money to pay salaries as they have not received their allocations from the Exchequer because of the stalemate on how much they should get.

Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya on Monday said there is nothing they can do now to avert the strike, so they will wait it out.

The Senate proposes that counties should get Sh335 billion from Treasury to run their affairs, but the National Assembly says that figure should be trimmed down to Sh316 billion.

Governors, naturally, are rooting for the higher figure, hence the stalemate.

COMPLIANCE

Mr Oparanya lamented that “the Senate and the National Assembly have proceeded on recess, so there is nothing going on” as far as solving the impasse is concerned.

Counties likely to be affected by the strike, according to the workers’ union, include Kitui, Machakos, Embu, Meru, Bungoma, Nakuru, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Siaya, Tharaka-Nithi, Isiolo and Marsabit. Others are West Pokot, Kisumu, Baringo, Samburu, Kericho, Homa Bay, Nyeri, Murang’a, Laikipia and Taita-Taveta.

“These counties have not paid and have not shown any indication of an intention to pay. They are rogue and from Wednesday there is going to be a total paralysis of services rendered by our members there,” said the union secretary-general Roba Duba.

The union issued a seven-day strike notice on Tuesday last week. By Sunday, only 23 counties had taken heed and paid salaries. Three others pledged to settle the arrears today.

The 23 counties that have paid their workers include Nairobi, Migori, Makueni, Trans-Nzoia, Kakamega, Kisii, Wajir, Nyamira, Nyandarua, Lamu, Kwale and Tana River. Others are Garissa, Mandera, Kajiado, Turkana, Nandi, Bomet, Vihiga, Narok, Mombasa, Siaya and Kiambu.

Those that have pledged to pay salaries today are Kilifi, Busia and Kirinyaga. The union is in discussions with Uasin Gishu over the same.

FINDING A SOLUTION

Joining KCGWU in solidarity last Tuesday were Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Union of Kenya Civil Servants and the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN).

Clinical officers and laboratory technologists on Saturday also threatened to withdraw their services in unity with the four giant unions.

The county workers had warned governors not to contemplate delaying last month’s salaries following a letter by the Council of Governors indicating that the coffers of counties had run dry.

The July 23 letter by CoG chairman Oparanya asked unions and county government workers to prepare for tough times ahead over the disbursement of salaries and other related payments due to delays in the passage of the bill for this financial year.

On Monday, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi also waded into the matter, saying he was “appealing to the National Assembly and the Senate to have a round table discussion to resolve the issue”; as “the more we continue wrangling over revenue share, the more we hurt county governments”.

In Kisumu, more than 7,000 workers vowed down their tools even as the county’s leadership scrambled to avert the industrial action.

“As things stand, the strike is still on and we will mobilise all our members to keep off their work stations until money is wired to their bank accounts,” the local secretary of the workers’ union, Mr Rashid Ondu, told the Nation.

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