Chaos as striking City Hall workers clash with police

Striking county workers outside City Hall where they had dumped garbage to block entry to the offices. [Photo: Onyango Jonah/Standard]

By Cyrus Ombati and Rawlings Otieno

Nairobi, Kenya: There was chaos outside City Hall in Nairobi Tuesday as striking county workers clashed with police who had been deployed to disperse them.

 The workers had defied a court order not to strike over their demands for the county government to implement a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that would see them earn better salaries.

 Tens of workers had camped outside City Hall demanding audience with Governor Evans Kidero when police moved in and lobbed teargas canisters.

Some workers were injured as they scampered for safety.

The workers had dumped garbage to block the entrance into City Hall.

Earlier, police had said they were looking for union officials of the Kenya County Government Workers Union who had defied a court order by calling for a demonstration outside City Hall.

This is after the Interim County Secretary Lillian Ndegwa, through lawyer Tom Ojienda, successfully sought a warrant of arrest for the union officials.

The county government had earlier this week moved to court seeking to halt the planned strike as it breached the mandatory legal provisions of the Labour Relations Act.

But the union officials were defiant Tuesday as they led other workers to a parade outside City Hall, barring motorists from using the busy Mundi Mbingu Street.

Kidero is also said to have held a crisis meeting with his top county executive members, where they resolved to immediately hire the services of National Youth Service officers to avert the crisis in the city.

NYS Director Japhet Rugut confirmed having received a confidential letter from ICS Ndegwa, requesting for personnel who will collect parking fees, collect garbage and also sweep the streets from this morning.

The workers went on strike Tuesday in order to compel the county government to implement a CBA dated September 1, last year. But according to the county government, it was not party to the pact.

It told Industrial Court judge Maureen Onyango that the revenue it collects from the city was not sufficient to implement the CBA or subsidise the operational costs of services.

“The bargaining agreement was entered into by the workers and the national government, and the county government was neither a party nor can it legally implement it,” submitted Ojienda.

The case will be heard on September 9.