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Salary delays in counties a major threat in the fight against Covid19

By Everlyne Kwamboka | April 20th 2020

Several county governments are racing against time to raise funds for medics’ salary arrears to avert go-slows in the fight against Covid19.
The counties that have written to the National Treasury to release the funds from the exchequer account are yet to receive the payments even as they continue equipping their health facilities to cater for Covid19 cases that may be detected in their areas.
Union officials in some of the affected counties have already petitioned the governors to release the salaries to avert impending industrial action. The affected counties include Kirinyaga, Vihiga and Homa Bay.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru confirmed yesterday that indeed, medics in the county have not received their pay.
“No one in my county has been paid March salary as we are yet to receive exchequer from the National Treasury on the same. However, we are expecting that the same will be released this coming week,” she said.
Kenya Clinical Officers Union (KCOU) Secretary General George Gibore said the workers have been caught in between going on a go-slow and catering for patients during this Covid19 pandemic that has caused havoc in the whole world.
“We are having a crisis meeting on Monday morning to see how we can engage the various county leaderships. This will enable us come up with a better solution given that the healthy workers are the ones in the frontline in fighting against Coronavirus,” he said.
In Vihiga County where medics took the decision to “Stay at Home” as they wait for their salaries, a group of 518 employees recruited in May last year have been operating without pay since October despite a court order that directed Governor Wilbur Otichillo’s government to release the pay.
“How do they expect medics to work when they have no food for their families? Some of them have been kicked out by landlords and transport to work is also a challenge? They also do not have protective gear yet everybody knows how lethal Covid19 is,” said Gibore.
The Employment Court had ordered in December that the 518 be paid their monthly salaries and on January 14, the controller of Budget, Dr Margaret Nyakangó communicated to the county regarding its recurrent exchequer account.
The 518 staff were only paid a total of Sh170 million that catered for their salaries for the months of June to October and since then, they have not received any pay.
The Controller of Budget had asked the county to explain how it was going to manage paying salaries from November, given the budget that was approved for the 2019/2020 financial year had not included them.
Gibore also pointed out that Vihiga received a total 2,000 surgical masks from the national government, adding that they were not enough for the 66 health facilities.
In Machakos County where Governor Alfred Mutua had promised medics special allowances, health workers and other employees received their March salaries yesterday.
“If the national Treasury continues delaying to release salaries especially during this Covid19 period, counties will have no option but to borrow money from banks and return immediately their receive the money,” said Mutua.
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