Hundreds of casual staff engaged by Homa Bay County government as cleaners yesterday took to the streets protesting failure by their employer to pay them salary arrears accrued over the last 11 months.
The irate protesting cleaners engaged police in running battles after they splashed heaps of garbage on the road leading to the office of the governor.
Anti-riot police officers lobbed teargas canisters to disperse the charged cleaners from the governor’s office.
Addressing the press later, the cleaners condemned the police action to violently disperse them claiming that it is their right to conduct a peaceful demonstration.
Thomas Muya one of the cleaners expressed his disappointment over the county government’s’ persistent failure to take care of the welfare of its employees.
“We have been suffering over delayed payments since we got employed by the county four years ago. Every year we must go on demonstrations to demand for our salaries,” said Muya.
He said that they have never received their salaries for nearly one year which has rendered them destitute.
“It is very unfortunate that we work for the government yet we cannot even afford to pay our rent,” said Muya.
Hellen Adhiambo, a casual cleaner elaborated that some of the employees had been forced to seek alternative housing after they were evicted from their residential houses for failure to pay their rents on time.
“Some of us are currently homeless due to failure to pay rents, as we speak, schools are being opened yet my children are at home because I don’t know where I am going to get their school fees,” lamented Adhiambo.
She called on the Governor Cyprian Awiti to look into their concerns before he hands over power to the next government.
On the other side, the Chief Officer of Water, Sanitation, Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, Moses Buriri said that he is aware that some of the worker’s payments are pending but added that some of them were no longer on contract.
He claimed that their department has done everything possible and the last time they paid the workers was last month, June 2nd, and that they were awaiting the disbursement from national government to pay them.
“I agree that a number of the cleaners have pending payments, but not for the duration they are claiming. For some, their contracts have expired,” said Buriri.
The Chief Officer added that they were working on clearing the arrears as soon as the county receives funds from the national treasury.