We won't surrender our staff, say firms

Murang’a Water Workers branch Chairman Francis Kamanga address the media. He said they will not be intimidated by the county government’s offer. [Boniface Gikandi, Standard]
The battle to control public water services continues to rage after water companies warned their employees against signing up with an umbrella body registered by the County Government.

In advertisements made in vernacular radio stations, the companies also told their more than 300 staff to ignore a directive that would have them placed under the Murang’a Water and Sewerage Services Corporation by July 31.

In a Kenya Gazette notice, the county government had given five service providers up to the end of the month to submit payrolls and names of more than 300 employees to the corporation’s acting CEO Kinandu Muragu.

The county government had indicated that staff who register with the corporation would retain their salaries and benefits.

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Water and Irrigation Chief Officer Antony Maina had insisted that the sector was devolved and services needed to be under one company.

“We have a number of employees who have submitted their details to the corporation as directed. Those who will have failed to submit their details by July 31 will consider themselves sacked,” said Mr Maina.

But Murang’a Water Workers branch chairman Francis Kamanga said the employees would not be intimidated by the county government's "unacceptable terms".

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Mr Kamanga said the water firms' staff were not employees of the county government because they were employed by boards through the Companies Act.

The Water Service Regulatory Board (Wasreb) also outlawed handing over of employees and payroll records to the new corporation.

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In a letter dated July 24, Wasreb said the corporation was not envisaged in Section 77 of the Water Act, 2016.

“The regulator is not aware and neither has it been privy to memorandum of objects and articles of association of this corporation,” read the letter by CEO Robert Gakubia.

Last week, the Kenya County Government Workers Union described the demands by the county government as being a "misinterpretation of the law".

Murang’a has five companies, namely Murang’a Water and Sewerage Company, Murang’a South Water and Sewerage Company, Kahuti, Gatanga and Gatamathi.

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Murang’aMurang’a Water and Sewerage Services CorporationWater Service Regulatory Board