MOMBASA COUNTY: For the last four weeks hundreds of workers for the Mombasa County government have been on strike demanding payment of delayed salaries.

But Governor Hassan Joho said the workforce inherited from the defunct local authority is suspiciously high and also unsustainable with a monthly wage bill of Sh160million.

In June an internal headcount showed that close to 1,400 out of 2,600 employees were on the payroll illegally. Workers disputed these figures alleging the headcount was conducted when most of them were on leave or that many of them were not informed of the count in good time.

This prompted a compromise involving the workers’ union, the county government and the Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) agency as arbitrators.

Muhuri hired the audit firm Ernst & Young to conduct a new and independent headcount which is nearing conclusion.

A preliminary report by Ernst & Young shows at least 1,032 workers had questionable employment status amid reports that workers who died are still on the payroll.

Workers’ victimisation

The report also indicated that some workers have been receiving salaries as much as three times every month. Joho divulged that although the count was ongoing it had been established many workers absorbed from the defunct council were on the payroll illegally.

He said the report shows that 31 employees have earned twice from the same payroll without detection.

Walid Khalid who is the county Executive committee member for Finance said the final report would be out in two weeks adding that even workers on strike have reported for the headcount.

Muhuri executive director Mr Khalid Hussein explained that his organisation funded the audit of the former council workers to try to lower the huge wage bill.

Mr Hussein claimed some influential people were sabotaging the count following a burglary at the apartments where the audit team is based.

Kenya Local Government Workers Union Mombasa branch secretary Mr Rashid Muteti has said workers are not afraid of the screening exercise but do not expect to be victimised.