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City hall workers strike over unpaid retirement dues

By Antynet Ford

Nairobi city county staff have downed their tools for the last week over the suspension of pension benefits to retirees by Local Authorities Pension Trust (Laptrust) over Sh 26.6 billion outstanding debt.

This comes after the county administration led by governor Sakaja failed to remit the Sh51 million monthly statutory deductions to enable Laptrust to pay employees who retired in September last year.

The Kenya County Government Workers Union, Nairobi branch secretary general Festus Ngari said the county had a deal with Laptrust to be remitting Sh51 million monthly but the Sakaja-led administration has failed to honor their end of the bargain with over Sh200 million meant for the months of September, October, November and December 2023 not paid.

The city-county owes Laptrust Sh9 billion in unremitted statutory deductions and a further Sh18 billion in accrued interest and penalties.

“Attempts by scheme trustees to collect the remittances have fallen on deaf ears with promises that are never honored. 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 favor that these former employees are asking for.” Ngari said.

The SG said the distress starts when one exits 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. 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.

Mid-last month, the Union raised concerns over the move by City Hall to unlawfully remove the retirees from the payroll while the Employment Act provides for the retention of employees in the payroll on temporary terms to await the processing of terminal dues.

Consequently, they have demanded 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 the month of February for the six months in arrears will attract severe industrial and legal action.” The letter to governor Sakaja read in part.

The union has expressed fears about following the legal process saying 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 strike by City Hall employees comes when the senate has also called for a probe and the formation of a mulita agency by the National Treasury over unremitted contributions.

Pension schemes including; the Local Authorities Provident Fund, County Pension Fund, National Social Security Fund, and the Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Co-operatives have placed the unremitted amount at Sh82.2 billion while governors have insisted to have paid Sh13.62 billion of the total Sh53.7 billion verified pension liabilities leaving a debt of Sh40.5 billion as at March last year.

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