Court freezes contract hiring of civil servants

PSC chairperson Stephen Kirogo. He said hiring on contract was to increase effectiveness of public service and trim the bulging wage bill. [File, Standard]

A workers’ union has obtained a court order stopping the Government’s plan to employ civil servants on contracts.

Justice Byram Ongaya also gave an order against the introduction of performance contract on the workers.

Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) obtained the orders on July 11 in an application filed on July 1, 2019.

The matter, which was certified as urgent, was informed by revelation by the Government that it will employ staff on contract from July 1, 2019.

The move, according to Public Service Commission(PSC) chairperson Stephen Kirogo, is to increase effectiveness of public service and trim the bulging wage bill.

The plan was that from July 1, individuals employed by the Government will be on a three-year contract and renewal will be subject to a performance contract.

Kirogo said the public service is bloated and unproductive owing to the fact that most of the employees feel contented with being on permanent and pensionable terms, hence less motivation to offer better service.

Knun, which is one of the bodies that represents nurses across all government institutions, in both national and county level, sued the Government through the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Public Service, the PSC and the Attorney General.

Knun sought to have the court issue conservatory orders of stay suspending the implementation of the decision to introduce performance contracts and putting all public and civil servants under contracts and not permanent and pensionable terms.

“That parties to maintain status quo pending further orders and directions of the motion,” reads the orders in part which had the National Employment Authority enjoined as an interested party.

The court also ordered the respondents and interested party to file and serve replying affidavits by July 24, 2019.

The mention of the case is on July 31, 2019.

“That the respondent and interested party are at liberty to apply for enjoining of any further relevant interested parties,” the order reads.

While the plan to have civil servants on contract will open up the service to 33,000 job opportunities, it puts at stake 66,000 individuals already in service once performance contracts kick in.

Kirogo said there will be no cases of resting easy for public servants just because they are on permanent and pensionable terms.

“We must be brutal if we want change…it will be our meagre contribution in managing the wage bill,” said Kirogo when he made the announcement.

In February, nurses were the first government workers to be hit with the news that they will be employed on contracts following meeting between the Ministry of Health and Council of Governors.

This was after the nurses paralysed service in county facilities pushing for the implementation of the 2017 return-to-work formula that increased their allowances which had not been honoured.