Sakaja clashes with MCAs over fate of 700 NMS workers

nms workers protest

Janet Nabwera, a casual worker, speaks to a journalist during a peaceful demonstration outside Nation Center on August 25, 2022, in a push by workers of the Nairobi Metropolitan Service for their four-month salary arrears to be cleared following the Uhuru Park Regeneration Programme.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

More than 700 city hall enforcement officers, who worked with the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS), are at risk of losing their jobs and not getting their salary arrears.

This comes after the county assembly and the county Public Service Board disagreed with Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja on their redeployment.

The assembly has faulted Mr Sakaja following his directive to redeploy the workers who had been laid off by the county service board.

Its Justice and Legal Affairs Committee has directed that the 700 workers be fired with immediate effect since their employment by the county is an illegality.

According to committee chairman, Mr Jared Akama, Mr Sakaja committed an illegality by issuing an order that the workers be redeployed as the county service board had announced that they would be laid off following the end of the NMS contract last November.

“As a committee, we are mandated to follow the law at all times and we cannot support an illegality. The workers were employed illegally through the NMS, whose contract ended last year. We urge the county service board and the chief officer for security to follow the law since these are strangers because they no longer work for the county government,” Mr Akama said.

He spoke during a committee hearing at City Hall, on the state of the 700 workers who have not received their salaries from the county government since November 2022.

During the meeting, the county chief officer for security and compliance, Mr Tony Kimani, and Public Service Board chair, Mr Thomas Kasoa, were put to task to explain why the workers had not been paid.

Mr Kasoa said they cautioned the Public Service Commission and NMS against employing the workers without following county recruitment structures.

“Our letter asked the Public Service Commission to stop the recruitment because the county employment structures were not followed. We also cautioned that the county does not have the ability to absorb the workers once the NMS term comes to an end,” he said.

The board also ruled out any possibility of employees receiving their salaries because their term of employment ended in November.

The NMS hired the enforcement officers in 2021 due to a staff shortage. The contracts they signed say their terms of service are valid until November 2024 and are subject to renewal depending on performance.

Earlier, Mr Kimani wrote a letter instructing the 700 people asking them to return their work tools, saying their terms of employment expired with the NMS’ exit.

“You are requested to release the officers to report to Dagoretti Training College on Friday, February 3, 2023, at 8am. Kindly inform them to carry their working tools, including uniforms, and ceremonial dressings for further instructions,” Mr Kimani said in the letter dated February 1, 2022.

It was copied to GovernorSakaja, Head of Public Service Felix Koskei and the county secretary.

However, in a quick response, the county boss directed that all the NMS employees who had been laid off report back to work.

“I directed that all former NMS enforcement officers, whose contracts with NMS had expired, report back to work immediately and be paid their pending dues,” he said.

During the hearing, Mr Kimani said the officers were still wearing the uniforms and operating as county askaris yet their terms of employment ended.

“They are no longer employees of the county government and there is no way they can be paid because their employment is illegal. We ask the county assembly to protect the chief officer because we are following the law,” he said.