Why casual workers were fired without getting paid

Taita-Taveta Governor Andrew Mwadime taking oath of office. [Renson Mnyamwezi, Standard]

The Taita-Taveta County Government has paid some of the 1,210 casual workers disengaged between 2013 and 2019.

The former casual labourers were paid a gratuity for their services during their tenure.

County Secretary Liverson Mghendi and the chair of the County Assembly Services Board Alfred Mlolwa told MCAs that 547 sacked workers were paid Sh23 million for serving for one year as per the labour laws.

However, the officer told the house that 434 workers were not compensated because they had served for less than one year.

“Out of 1,210 casual workers hired, only 547 were compensated while 434 did not benefit from the severance pay because they served for only three months. A total of 229 workers were later reinstated. Those who served for one year were paid their full gratuity by the county administration,” Mghendi told the MCAs yesterday.

The county secretary and Mlolwa were summoned to appear before the assembly to explain why the casuals were sacked without pay.

The county executives were also questioned over unfair sackings, especially at this time when the country is still reeling from the effects of Covid-19, high unemployment, poverty, high food prices and drought.

Mghendi and Mlolwa were hard-pressed to clarify what procedures the Executive had used to engage the casual workers and the period they had served in the county administration.

During an interrogation session led by Dorcus Mlughu, the chair of the Committee on Devolution, Administration and Public Service in Wundanyi town, the MCAs protested that the affected workers are impoverished and are suffering at home yet they rendered services to the public from 2013 to 2019.

“We want to know from the Executive what criteria they had used to hire and fire the workers and if the affected workers were also given the notice to terminate their services with some having served the county since 2013?” posed Ms Mlughu, the Rong’e Juu ward representative.

Mghendi said they had hired 1,210 casual labourers on a three-month interchangeable contract.

He told the MCAs that those who served for three months did not qualify for gratuity and severance pay while those who served for one year were qualified.

Mghendi said that notices of termination were issued to those affected as per the labour laws and guidelines. Mlolwa said after the termination of the workers’ contracts, the board started giving casual workers a one-year contract.

“The one-year contract introduced by the Executive has now added value for consistency and growth of the workers in service because they now qualify for gratuity,” Mlolwa told the MCAs.

“Dozens of former workers did not qualify for gratuity because of the break-in of their contract. We have now streamlined employment in the county government to ensure that those hired on contract qualify for gratuity unlike in the past.”

He said the board is employing workers through a transparent process. “We have also introduced policies that guide departments on the recruitment of staff,” he said.

[email protected]