21 January 2013

Kenya: Strike to Cost City Hall Sh25 Million a Day

Photo: Capital FM
City Hall: Council workers have downed their tools over pay.

Nairobi — The City Council of Nairobi is set to lose Sh25 million a day in uncollected dues after its employees boycotted work over a pay dispute, leaving parking fees uncollected and streets littered with garbage.

According to Town Clerk Tom Odongo, the figure represents half of the council's revenue collection per day.

"We collect Sh50 million in revenue every day and that has been halved since rates, parking fees and other monies have not be been collected and this is affecting our revenue base," he told reporters during a press conference at City Hall.

The workers are accusing the Local Government Ministry of failing to sign a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that had been approved earlier.

"The CBA included a 60 percent salary increment, a house allowance of Sh5,000 for every employee. Commuter allowance had gone up by Sh1,000," they outlined.

"We shall continue with this strike. Nairobi residents will not have water, you will not be able to take your dead people to the City Mortuary and Pumwani Hospital will be closed," they warned.

They vowed to boycott work until their demands are met.

"There will be no work until the Local Government Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi and the minister realise that we as city council staff are not being paid well," they stated.

According to the clerk however, the strike is not justified since every effort was made to honour the CBA.

Odongo said that the signed CBA had been forwarded to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) which has the sole power to approve a salary increment.

"It is after March 1st that a dispute can be declared if by then the Salaries and Remuneration Commission will not have dispensed with the matter. We brought up this issue to the attention of the union officials at the branch level and we informed them of this development and we shared with them the records of submission that was done by the ministry to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission," he stated.

He however pointed out that while striking was a right for workers, there were some who vandalised council offices and intimidated their colleagues into joining them.

"A strike cannot include vandalising of city council property, forceful eviction of employees from the office, vandalising computers, destroying sensitive documents belonging to the council, littering the streets. Our position is that these are illegal activities," he warned.

He stated that such action will not be condoned and individuals responsible will be arrested.

"We will arrest and charge anybody who is involved in this from now on. Any more interfering with our property will result in arrest. You have a right to strike but it does not involve destroying our property," he said.

Kisumu Town Clerk Christopher Rosanna in the meantime also stated that the local council there is losing Sh3 million per day in uncollected rates as a result of the ongoing strike by the workers.

He indicated that garbage has remained uncollected for the last four days and the situation might expose local residents to diseases.

The clerk convened a meeting with the union representatives and implored them to return to work as they press for their rights but they declined.

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