BY GEOFFREY ISAYA
Operations in at least 15 counties in Kenya will be disrupted starting tomorrow (Tuesday) after county government workers vowed to down their tools over delayed salaries.
The workers issued a seven-day strike notice last week over delays by the devolved units to pay their July salaries.
On Sunday , Kenya County Government Workers Union (KCGWU) Secretary-General Roba Duba said that 28 counties have so far paid their workers and effectively averted the planned strike.Four others have made commitments to pay their employees by tomorrow and will also not face the industrial action. They are Kirinyaga, Kilifi, Uasin Gishu and Busia counties.
Duba, however, said that 15 counties have neither paid nor made any plans to clear the salary arrears.
“These counties have not paid and have not shown any indication of an intention to pay. They are rogue counties and from Tuesday, there is going to be total paralysis there,” Roba told a press conference in Nairobi.
They are Isiolo, Marsabit, West Pokot, Kisumu, Baringo, Samburu, Kitui, Machakos, Embu, Meru, Bungoma, Samburu, Nakuru, Elgeyo Marakwet and Tharaka Nithi.
KCGWU, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union and the Kenya National Union of Nurses last week issued the strike notice following a letter by the Council of Governors informing the unions that workers July salaries could delay.
The letter by CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya warned the workers to brace for tough times ahead because of the stalemate in Parliament over Division of Revenue Bill, 2019, in Parliament.
The bill is crucial legislation that spells out the sharing of revenue between the national and county governments for the 2019-20 financial.
While Senators have allocated the counties Sh335 million, their colleagues in the National Assembly have proposed Sh316 billion. Currently, the Bill is awaiting mediation after the clash.
However, the mediation could be delayed after the legislators broke for a month-long recess last Thursday.
The crisis has plunged the devolved units into a serious cash problem. Workers, suppliers and contractors have been the worst hit by the cash crisis.
On Saturday, clinical officers and laboratory technologists joined the three giant unions and threatened to withdraw services from tomorrow.
But Duba said that workers should not be drawn into the stalemate and they (employees) should not be subjected to untold pain and suffering after rendering their services.
“There is nothing new in the payment of staff salaries. It is something that is known and budgeted for in advance. It is something that is planned and budgeted for. It is a recurrent expenditure,” he said.
He claimed the governors could only be using the emotive workers’ salaries to pile pressure on the government and Parliament to release the money to counties.
“None of the counties that we have engaged has cited the stalemate in Parliament for the delays. In fact, even the four that have agreed to pay by Tuesday or Wednesday told us the delays were related to payroll management and other small issues.