All employees of five Water Companies in Murang’a County have declined to present their employment documents to local county government.
The workers on Tuesday led by their union officials have termed the directive by the County Executive Member for Water, Paul Macharia to present their employment documents to the county administration as illegal.
Macharia in a gazette notice last week directed all employees of the five water companies operating in Murang’a to report to the county government headquarters and furnish all their identification and employment details.
In the notice, the CEC for water said the workers will be under the newly formed Murang’a County Water and Sanitation Services Corporation and they will be issued with another appointment letters by July 31.
The action by the county government was occasioned by a letter from Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) directing all water companies to start the process of handing over their assets to respective devolved administrations.
The employees who converged at offices of Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (MUWASCO) said they were legally appointed and their reporting procedure is clearly spelt out in their engagement letters.
Led by their branch chairman, Francis Kamanga, the workers claimed that the water companies are registered under the company Act 2015 and an action of takeover or any other reform must be done within legal framework in the context of the same Act.
“It should be clear to all employees that their reporting offices remain as indicated in the service provision agreement and the operating water provision license,” said Kamanga.
Kamanga observed that the Water Cabinet Secretary in October last year ordered for status quo to remain until the ministry gazettes both the guiding policy, the assets and staff transfer plan which are still pending.
“There are several cases pending in court on the Murang’a water services including assault cases where our women staffs were assaulted and therefore we cannot act in contempt of court until the cases are determined,” added the union chairman.
He noted that the matter of labour relations covering the water companies’ staff must be dealt with as per the recognition agreement and employment law demanding the county government to respect the rule of law and stop interference with the workers.
The workers are from five companies including Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company, Murang’a South Water and Sanitation Company, Gatanga Community Water Scheme, Kahuti Water and Gatamathi Water and Sanitation companies.
The women representative in the union, Wanjiru Ng’ang’a faulted the directive of the county water CEC, saying water companies’ staff are not guaranteed of their job if they are put under the county administration.
She said there are no policies to guide transition of employees as for now and thus the water CEC should stop giving ultimatum.
“In the past we witnessed some individuals from the county government disrupting operations of the water companies even going to an extent of assaulting of our staff, we fear what will happen if we will be under the county administration,” observed Ms. Ng’ang’a.
Water wars in Murang’a have been in existence for more than two years with the county government trying to take full control of management of the water companies.
The water firms have been accused by the county administration of operating like private entities and charging water at exorbitant rates.
By Bernard Munyao