City Hall staff go on strike over unpaid retirement dues

City Hall staff will from today, Monday, down their tools protesting the suspension of pension benefits to retirees by Laptrust over Sh26.6 billion outstanding debt.

The development follows the failure by the Governor Johnson Sakaja-led administration to release Sh51 million monthly statutory deductions remittance to enable the scheme to pay retirees who retired in September last year.

Kenya County Government Workers Union Nairobi Staff Branch secretary Mr Festus Ngari said they will hold a vigil outside Governor Sakaja’s office starting Monday until the arrears are settled in full.

Nairobi County government owes Local Authorities Pension Trust (Laptrust) DB scheme Sh9 billion in unremitted statutory deductions and a further Sh18 billion in accrued interest and penalties.

Ngari said City Hall had struck a deal with the Union and Laptrust to be remitting Sh51 million monthly but the county government has failed to honour their end of the bargain with over Sh200 million meant for the months of September, October, November and December 2023 not paid.

He said they have been in discussions with Nairobi Finance CEC Charles Kerich and Laptrust since July 2023 with a promise to release Sh51 million monthly remittance to enable the scheme to pay retirees who retired in September last year.

“Attempts by scheme trustees to collect the remittances have fallen on deaf ears with promises that are never honoured,” said Ngari.

“This is hitting hard on retired, retiring and future retirees. The Union has no option but to direct its members including potential retirees to your office to picket starting February 26, 2024 until the arrears are settled in full. This is not a favour that these former employees are asking for,” he added.

Ngari said the distress starts when one exits the payroll despite legitimate expectations that all the money they have been paying in statutory deductions, being 12 percent from their salary and 15 percent contribution by the employer, waiting for them after hitting the retirement age of 60 years.

Consequently, he said they have continued to lose their members to premature deaths as they toil to get their retirement dues despite a long period of exemplary service to the county government.

“The Union feels that their members should be allowed to retire in dignity and enjoy their days as senior citizens,” said Mr Ngari.

“The Union further observes that the anxiety caused is causing early death due to depression causing other complications to these elderly members of the society,” he added.

In a letter dated February 19, 2024, the Union raised concerns over the move by City Hall to unlawfully remove the retirees from the payroll.

Mr Ngari said the Employment Act provides for retention of employees in the payroll on temporary terms to await the processing of terminal dues.

Consequently, they have demanded for the reinstatement of the retirees on temporary terms until their retirement dues are paid in full to the Laptrust retirement scheme.

“Take note that failure to remit the said amounts or reinstate them back into payroll for month of February for the six months in arrears will attract severe industrial and legal action,” reads in part the letter to Governor Sakaja.

He said they will not allow any legal processes because county lawyers will be paid a lot of money in legal fees more than the amount payable to retirees as that has been the trend.

“The Union is asking the President, deputy president and all leaders of goodwill to come and rescue helpless, voiceless senior citizens from this tragedy,” said Mr Ngari.

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