A public service crisis of monumental proportions looms in at least three North Rift counties starting today as staff embark on a go-slow to demand payment of their July salaries, the culmination of a debilitating standoff between the National Assembly and the Senate over the Division of Revenue Bill.
Aggrieved workers have, through the Kenya County Government Workers Union (KCGWU), vowed to disrupt normal operations by staging pay parades and go-slows until their dues are fully paid.
North Rift counties likely to be affected by the strike, according to the workers’ union, include Baringo, West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties.
“These counties have not paid and have not shown any indication of an intention to pay. They are rogue and from Wednesday there is going to be a total paralysis of services rendered by our members there,” said the union secretary-general Roba Duba.
The union issued a seven-day strike notice on Tuesday last week.
In Baringo, workers, through the union secretary-general Joseph Cheruiyot, said they were ready to down their tools, while in Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos admitted the county is broke.
“We have a huge deficit in our budget and the workers risk going without salaries,” Mr Tolgos said.
He added that he was disappointed that the County Assembly had refused to surrender part of its annual budgetary allocation to bail them out of the financial crisis.
The same scenario was repeated in West Pokot county, where union officials asked members not to report to duty until they received their salaries.
However, Nandi, Turkana and Trans Nzoia counties have already paid their workers.
Nandi County Secretary Francis Sang said workers received their salaries last week, paid from internal revenue and savings from previous financial years.
Uasin Gishu has reached out to the workers but is yet to give a definite timeline when the salaries will be paid.
The delay of the salaries has been caused by the push and pull between the National Assembly and the Government on one hand and Senate and governors on the other over monies to be allocated to counties under the Division of Revenue Bill.
While Treasury and the National Assembly insist on an allocation of Sh316 billion to the 47 counties, Senate and the governors are pushing for Sh335 billion.
Senate amended the Division of Revenue Bill, originating from the National Assembly, to raise the allocation to counties to Sh335 billion.
Governors and senators have since sought the Supreme Court’s intervention on the stalemate.
Chief Justice David Maraga advised the parties involved to reach an agreement on the matter before engaging the court.