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Murang’a health workers paid Sh50m after 3-year court battle

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Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria. Photo | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG
Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria. Photo | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG 

Health workers in Murang’a county have received outstanding salary arrears amounting to Sh49.9 million after a three-year court battle.

County Public Service Board secretary Richard Kamami filed an affidavit at the Labour Court in Nyeri confirming compliance with orders issued by Justice Byram Ongaya on May 8, 2015. The court had directed the government to retain the medics in employment and also pay them outstanding amounts.

Governor Mwangi wa Iria’s government paid the 176 nurses their dues after the court ruled that board members risked spending up to six months in jail for contempt.

Mr Kamami said the health workers, who were employed by the central government in 2011 under the Economic Stimulus Programme, had also been issued with appointment letters. “Only one petitioner, Mary Wanjiru Gicharu, was in the wrong job group and she has been requested to furnish the board with her academic credentials to enable her grading,” said Mr Kamami.

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On contempt of court proceedings which the nurses had commenced against the board, Mr Kamami said they can only apply to the government’s accounting officer.

“Board members have played their advisory role in regard to outstanding arrears. The show cause regarding payment of arrears and the committal orders sought against members of the board on account of unpaid arrears cannot properly be issued against them,” said Mr Kamami.

The medics, through lawyer Waweru Macharia, wanted board officials committed to civil jail for failure to pay the medics.

“There is a real risk of budgetary allocations of the county meant for payment of arrears of salary and allowances of the petitioners in the current financial year being put to other uses,” said lawyer Waweru in the contempt application.

The case was lodged after the devolved government declined to renew the health workers’ contracts but the court declared that they were entitled to being retained in employment on a permanent and pensionable basis.

They had been hired in 2011 for a three-year contract which lapsed in May 2014.

Instead of being employed on a permanent basis the county government opted to extend their contracts by six months. The case will be mentioned on December 11.

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