May 28th 2017

Media / Watchdog

Mainstream media blacks out news of 'starving' Machakos County workers

"It is so shameful what is happening in Machakos. You have county government employees whose children have been sent out of school. Some cannot buy essential commodities including food and everyone knows this yet the media won't cover what is happening in Machakos".

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comFriday, 10 Mar 2017 18:21 EAT

Governor Alfred Mutua (third from right) accompanying President Uhuru Kenyatta at the GSU passing out parade in Embakasi this morning.

Seven Kenya County Government Workers Union officials in Machakos County were arrested today while leading a strike by local workers over delayed salaries for last month and salary arrears going back several months. Some individual workers are owed as much as Sh1.6 million by the county.

The unionists who are behind the striking county workers had issued a 21-day ultimatum to the Machakos government to pay the workers on January 15. The unionists claim the working environment for their members has deteriorated to "unacceptable levels" given rampant salary delays and what some officials term as highhandedness of top county officials. 

Mrs Grace Munguti, the acting County Secretary and Head of Public Service on March 6 wrote to all Chief Officers, Heads of Directorates and CEOs announcing the delayed February salary. “This is to inform you that there is a delay in the remittance of salaries for the month of February. This is a result of a delay in the remittance of funds by the National Treasury. It is however expected that the remittance will be done before the end of the week”, said the letter in part urging the recipients to notify the respective members of staff.

The strike which began yesterday was initiated by staff in the Inspectorate Department who were immediately joined by workers from all departments. An official of the workers' union who called the Kenya Free Press complained that the mainstream media had blacked out the news of the strike and demonstrations that took place in Machakos Town yesterday.

"It is so shameful what is happening in Machakos. You have county government employees whose children have been sent out of school. Some cannot buy essential commodities including food and everyone knows this yet the media won't cover what is happening in Machakos," said a unionist.

However, local journalists from all the leading media houses including the Nation Media group, Standard Group and Royal Media services confirmed to this website that they covered the story but editors in Nairobi decided not to use it. "We had cameras on the site and finalised our copy in good time for the 7pm and 9pm news but somehow the editors didn't find the story useful," said a TV journalist.

Today, the county government announced the sacking of some workers it claimed were inciting their colleagues. The county executive committee member in charge of decentralised services George Kioko Luka told journalists that some of the striking workers were employed on contract terms and were now demanding permanent contracts.

Some workers demanded that Governor Alfred Mutua personally address them, but the county boss was away in Nairobi accompanying President Uhuru Kenyatta at the GSU passing out parade in Embakasi.

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