Pope’s visit next week delays City Hall workers’ strike to December

Services in Nairobi could be paralysed from December 1 after county workers issued a strike notice to demand settlement of their pension dues and reinstatement of 17 suspended workers.

The Kenya County Government Workers Union (KCGWU) had planned to start the strike on Tuesday next week but postponed it by a week due to Pope Francis’ impending visit.

City Hall owes two pension bodies, the Local Authorities Pension Fund (Lapfund) and CPF Financial Services (formerly Laptrust), Sh9.7 billion.

It also owes the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Sh600 million. “Due to his Holiness Pope Francis’ visit to our beloved country on November 25, we have decided to postpone the parade to December 1, 2015 up to when the demands are fully met,” Benson Oriaro, the KCGWU Nairobi branch chairman said in a letter to the county secretary.

Besides the pension dues, the union is also demanding the reinstatement of 17 parking attendants the union claims were irregularly suspended. The union also wants late payment of salaries addressed.

The unremitted dues have almost doubled in the last one year. CPF is now owed Sh5 billion up from Sh2.8 billion in June 2014.

Lapfund’s debt rose by Sh1.7 billion to Sh4.7 billion. The union said that this poses a danger to retiring workers. More than half of City Hall’s 14,000 workers are above 45 years, with a huge number approaching 60. The workers accuse the county executive of failing to sign minutes of resolutions on various issues to evade implementation.

The union has also written to the OCPD Central Police Station requesting for security during a protest parade to be held at City Hall.

The workers have not had a strike since September 2013 with the county government managing to negotiate with the union on labour disputes over the last two years.

City Hall is considering freezing hiring and offering a voluntary early retirement deal to reduce its huge wage bill which takes 60 per cent of its revenues.

The county has an annual wage bill of Sh14 billion which it says leaves little for development.

The government has the dubious distinction of maintaining a bloated workforce with lacklustre service delivery.

The county is increasingly outsourcing services such as revenue and garbage collection in what is expected to ultimately reduce its staff and improve services.

SOURCE: BUSINESS DAILY