Nairobi — Police lobbed teargas at Nairobi City County (NCC) workers outside City Hall on Tuesday after they defied a court order and staged a protest to demand higher pay.
The workers had gathered at the entrance of City Hall and littered nearby streets in a move aimed at compelling the county authorities to honour a collective bargaining agreement struck last year awarding them between 40 and 60 percent increase in their perks.
Speaking before the incident, the Kenya County Government Workers Union Nairobi branch chairman Benson Oliang'a said they would not resume work until the CBA was fully implemented.
"Unfortunately, they have taken a wrong body to court. We are no longer a Kenya Local Government Workers Union. We have transited and we are now Kenya County Government Workers Union. We are going to defy the court order," he declared.
"We will not honour whatever they are putting forward. What we are telling Kenyans is to congregate here until they are paid the last coin," he said.
His sentiments were echoed by the union's Nairobi treasurer Bernard Inyangala who stated that they would not budge from their stance until their demands were met.
"We are having a court order to force (Governor Evans) Kidero to pay and as per now, we have not been served with any court order. We are enforcing our court order and we are not budging," he said.
"If he refuses, workers will stay out of their offices until he agrees. He is going to wash dead bodies in the mortuary and he is going to help pregnant mothers give birth in Pumwani," he charged.
Kidero however disowned the agreement, saying his government was not party to the deal.
"There is a court order and there were agreements which were signed before the County Government came into being. All the workers we have now are on loan to us from the Central Government and our County Public Service Board will be interviewing all the workers and we will be taking and negotiating with them their terms and conditions," he said.
He stated that the bargaining agreement was entered into by the workers and the national government, and the county government was neither a party nor can it legally implement it.
The Industrial Court had restrained the employees from going on strike after the county government moved to court.
It was seeking to halt the planned strike as it breached the mandatory legal provision of the Labour Relations Act and the employees were engaged in the provision of essential services in the city.
The workers want to compel the county government to implement a Collective Bargaining Agreement dated September 1 last year.
The county government told Justice Maureen Onyango that the revenue it collects from the city was not sufficient to implement the CBA or subsidise the operational costs of services.
The revenue collected in July this 2013 amounted to Sh453,724,817 which in a year translates to Sh5,444,697,804.
Implementing the CBA would require an annual cost of Sh10,439,936,631, an amount that is nearly double the total annual revenue collected.