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Outcry as county government redeploys clerks as farm workers

COUNTIES
By Lydiah Nyawira | Aug 12th 2015 | 3 min read

Over 40  Nyeri county government employees previously working as revenue clerks have been redeployed as labourers in various departments a move the County Government Workers Union has termed a gross violation of their terms of service.

The workers who were absorbed from the local authorities said they were being targeted with the redeployment in order to force them to quit their jobs.

“Some of these employees have worked as revenue clerks for over 15 years, while others have only two years to their retirement yet they are now working under harsh conditions as farm labourers,” said Kimaru Maina, the local union secretary.

Last month, the county government carried out a massive redeployment exercise in efforts to streamline the staff inherited from the defunct local authorities, the national government as well as those it had employed.

Those deployed to Wambugu Farm Agricultural Training Centre said they were working without any protective gear and were being harassed by their supervisors.

One of the departments affected by the transfers was revenue, where most clerks who previously worked in major towns found themselves on farms working to clear bushes and harvest beans, cook and also do laundry for the centre’s hostels.

One man who is now at the farm harvesting beans, said he had been working as a revenue clerk for six years before he was transferred to Wambugu farm.

“They expect each of us to weed up to two acres of beans and then dry and package them. This feels like punishment,” the man said.

He complained he and his colleagues were not issued with any protective gear or uniforms to carry out the duties.

“We cannot fail to come to work regardless of the station we have been transferred to because that will be grounds for dismissal but we need the basic uniforms and gumboots to protect ourselves,” Mr Maina  said.

“These men and women were employed to carry out specific jobs which were to sweep streets, collect garbage, collect market and parking fees or enforce council by laws but none of them was skilled to work in a farm,” Maina said.

Maina said the union was going to send a letter to the human resource department, and also request the National County Government Workers Union to offer assistance in seeking legal redress.

Public Administration and Communications Chief Officer Alice Wachira, however, refuted the union’s claims over the redeployment.

“Transfers and redeployment are normal in any institution and we carried out the transfers to harmonise all the services and staff within the county government.

“There were no specific workers targeted in the operation,” Ms Wachira said.

Agriculture Chief Officer David Nyaga said it was the policy of the department to ensure the necessary protective gear was issued to each worker depending on their duties.

“There has been a lot of resistance from those workers who were redeployed to the agricultural department.

“And yet their appointment letters indicate they are labourers. There is no cause for alarm,” Nyaga said.

 

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