Pensioners gather outside the National Treasury on November 21, 2019, protesting against bad pension laws. (Nation Media Group)
By Lucy Mkanyika
More than 5,000 former government employees sacked over 20 years ago face a bleak future, unsure when they will ever receive their court-ordered terminal and pension payments.
They filed their case in 2000 and courts ruled in their favour in 2012 and last year. In February 2015, the Employment and Labour Relations Court awarded them more than Sh836 million as compensation for their sacking. The court also awarded them costs of Sh17 million.
Principal Judge Mathew Nduma based these numbers on a judgment issued by Justice Roselyn Nambuye in 2012. Justice Nambuye had found that the workers were entitled to redundancy pay.
Some of the former workers spoke to Nation.Africa in Voi, Taita Taveta County, on Sunday. They said an opaque process in the office of the Attorney-General had delayed the payments.
More than 130 workers from Taita Taveta were sacked between 1998 and 2002 in a restructuring meant to streamline the civil service, reduce the workforce and cut spending.
Davis Mwadigha, the chairperson of the Taita Taveta group, said members were victimised, stigmatised, traumatised, demeaned and humiliated.
The sacked workers, he said, had only been paid Sh40,000 each as a send-off package, and were subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment.
"We just woke up and found ourselves jobless. The retrenchment programme was not transparent at all," he said.
Of the 133 members in the Taita Taveta group, he said, 30 had died while still waiting for their dues.
"It was so humiliating to be sent home with nothing after working for the government for many years. The stress has made some members die prematurely. Most of us are living in poverty," he said.
Jane Njoroge, another sacked worker, said she cannot afford to take care of her family.
"I have tried many businesses but they don't grow because that is where I get money for everything. Our children cannot go to school because we cannot pay for their fees," she said.
Pascal Katambo, also sacked in 2000, said many of his former colleagues cannot afford medications and some of them have died because of this.
"Our children dropped out of schools and colleges. That's why we are asking the government to release our money for us to take care of our families," he said.
He asked the National Assembly, the Senate and other relevant government agencies to intervene and ensure they get justice.
This article was published by the Nation.