Union protests as Kihika sacks 605 casual workers

Susan Wangari, one of the over 600 casual workers laid off by the Nakuru County government, addresses the press on January 9, 2023. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard]

Nakuru County has terminated employment of 605 workers who were engaged on casual terms in the environment department.

The workers, who were responsible for cleaning the town and taking care of the flower beds, trees and other public open spaces to ensure safety, have been replaced by another group after their contracts expired on December 31, 2022.

On Monday, January 9, 2023, John Ndunda, the Deputy General Secretary at Kenya County Government Workers Union said governor Susan Kihika’s administration issued a notice to terminate the contracts in December 2022.

 “605 casual employees in the Environment docket were notified through text on the night of December 31, 2022, that their contracts would not be renewed into the New Year,” said Ndunda.

Firing of the workers comes a month after the Assembly approved a supplementary budget in which the department was allocated an additional Sh15m for casual labourers.

Ndunda regretted the manner in which the workers had their contracts terminated terming it disrespectful after their dedicated service for nearly a decade.

“These people have served the county wholeheartedly since 2013 when devolution was introduced. It is saddening they have been sacked after all these years in such a humiliating manner,” he said.

The unionist noted that the workers received information of their firing in shock, as they were expecting to be hired on a permanent and pensionable basis as earlier promised.

The new administration had during the political campaigns promised to review such employment contracts to make them permanent.

“Having served the county for all those years, they should have been treated better. We don’t understand what happened to the promise of permanent and pensionable terms,” said Ndunda.

Ndunda noted that the county government was yet to release their December pay exposing them to financial suffering at a time the economy is weighing heavily on families.

Review decision

“The economy is very unfriendly to most Kenyans. These people have rent to pay and school fees to pay this month. We urge and hope the governor will review her decision,” he said.

He questioned the criteria used by the county to employ their replacements who have since reported to duty.

He explained that the county had flouted various regulations including not hiring them on a permanent basis the moment they served for the first 90 days as provided in labour laws.

“When those who were fired went to their previous workstations at the beginning of the month, they found new faces. This is a matter we want the administration to clarify,” said Ndunda.

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