Union dismisses incoming governors' ghost workers claim, threatens strike

Kenya County Government Workers Union Secretary-General Roba Duba. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The county workers' union has vowed to resist the plan by the newly elected governors to sack employees under the cover of getting rid of ghost workers in county governments.

Kenya County Government Workers Union said some governors were scheming to replace people hired by their predecessors to create room to employ their cronies. The union's General Secretary Roba Duba said they will 'fight tooth and nail' to defend the rights of all workers who were legally hired by county governments.

Governors Simba Arati (Kisii), Mohamed Ali (Marsabit), Cecily Mbarire (Embu), and Julius Malombe (Kitui) said the cash-strapped counties were also grappling with the huge wage bill. Speaking during the induction workshop for governors and their deputies in Mombasa Mr Arati said most of Kisii county's 7,000 workers were irregularly employed or promoted.

"We are being told to follow the law in laying off some people employed irregularly. In Kisii the wage bill is at 62 per cent of the budget," said Arati on Thursday.

Garissa Governor Nathif Jama also said wage bills of most of the counties have hit the rooftop because of the inherited workers from the defunct municipalities and national government agencies.

"Some county governments have been unable to remit statutory deduction because of the huge workforce. We have come on board with a very big number of workers," said Jama.

Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka said the counties should not be forced to absorb workers from the defunct administration structure saying the move will increase the wage bill.

But the workers' union Saturday threatened to call an industrial action against governors who will intimidate or arbitrarily lay off workers on the pretext of dealing with the ghost workers problem.

Mr Duba, the union executive committee including chairperson Mary Murongoro were speaking in Mombasa.