Counties plan to hire workers on contract not a good idea

Ahead of the concluded National Governors Conference in Kirinyaga County recently, a resolution was reached that county government will resort to hiring workers on contract basis. The rationale behind this; cutting recurrent expenditure, which happens to be the Achilles heel of all counties, is sound. The level of wastage within counties, dubbed devolved corruption, has been cause for concern.

Development has suffered because more funds are expended on recurrent expenditure, but even then, the Auditor General has often questioned the usage. As a consequence, counties have huge pending bills that often times have had a negative impact on service delivery.

While hiring workers on contract basis may solve some of the financial problems through a reduction in pension payment, to even think this is the silver bullet that cures financial woes within counties is to miss the point. Governor Mutahi Kahiga’s contention that every other worker should be on contract since he (and other elected leaders) have a five-year contract with the people who elected them, does not hold water.

Elected leaders may present themselves as workers on contract, but there is no denying that they enjoy perks and benefits ordinary workers can only read about. Elected leaders are entitled to mortgages, car loans, comprehensive medical covers for self, spouses and children and a hefty pension at the end of their terms. A contract worker in Kenya does not enjoy anything else besides the agreed salary.

It would be understandable if the private sector, where pay is attractive, chose to hire workers on contract basis, but not so with the Government whose workforce is expected to give its best in exchange for meagre pay that often leads to industrial action as has been the case with teachers, nurses and doctors over the years.

Not only must workers feel secure in their jobs, they must meet their daily needs while planning for the future which, under contractual hiring, would be hard.

With salaries hardly sufficient for their needs, workers have had to improve their lot by taking bank and Sacco loans, a prerequisite of which is a payslip as poof of permanent employment.

Circumventing labour laws and limiting workers’ rights is not the way to solve county problems. Corruption must be dealt with while allowances and foreign junkets so dear to Members of County Assemblies get limited.

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National Governors ConferenceKirinyaga CountyHiring workersContractNurses