Homa Bay staff demand probe on salary delays, illegal deductions

Cyprian Awiti

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti dancing during Lake Region Economic Bloc Summit meeting in Siaya County on January 15, 2020. Looking on are Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and his Siaya counterpart Cornel Rasanga. 

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

Health workers in Homa Bay have called on investigative agencies to look into perennial salary delays affecting county government employees.

The county government depends on disbursements from the National Treasury to pay salaries and for development.

Any slight delays always paralyse government operations as workers may down tools when they are not paid on time.

Kenya National Union of Nurses Homa Bay branch deputy secretary Emardic Okeyo said their salaries had been delayed for the past three years with no signs that Governor Cyprian Awiti's administration is tackling the issue.

Mr Okeyo claimed salaries are always deposited late in bank accounts, and workers servicing loans are slapped with penalties.

The January salaries, he said, were paid on February 22, more than two weeks after the official date of payment.

"The last agreement we had with the county government was for salaries to be paid by the eighth of every month. This has not been implemented since we signed an agreement in 2019," Mr Okeyo said.

When salaries are delayed, remittances of statutory deductions like the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and loan repayments are affected.

Mr Okeyo claimed most deductions are not remitted to the various entities because of strict deadlines.

Kenya National Union of Clinical Officers executive secretary Omondi Obunga asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to investigate alleged loss of funds in the county finance department.

He also asked the Auditor-General to examine salary payments and expose possible rot in the finance department, saying some money may be diverted to other areas.

Mr Obunga claimed Homa Bay is the only county that does not pay its workers on time and does not remit statutory deductions for some workers.

"This makes the public suffer when we go on strike. Currently, health workers do not have active NHIF accounts because of the delays," he said.

Speaking when the medical workers’ unions suspended their week-long strike yesterday, the unionist threatened that members will down tools if their salaries are delayed again.

"We shall boycott work from March 8 if February salaries shall not have been paid by then. We shall not give any notice because we have realised that our employer is not concerned about our welfare," the medic said.

Health workers in the county also asked officials to stock hospitals with drugs.

Mr Okeyo said most hospitals had run short of medicines, with patients being asked to buy drugs from private health facilities.

"We do not have essential drugs. If the government owes the suppliers, they should be paid," he said.

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