First it was eight (8) straight months without pay. And now comes an indefinite unpaid compulsory leave for 26 members of the non teaching staff at Kitui Teachers Training College.
The depressed workers who have been ordered by the college principal to proceed on unpaid leave with effect from July 1, 2021 say they have come to the end of their tether. They are now calling on the government, the ministry of education, the Kitui county leadership including senator Enoch Wambua and governor Charity Ngilu to promptly come to their rescue.
“It has been eight months of untold suffering. No salaries, some of us are living like squatters. And now the principal has decided we have to go on unpaid leave for unspecified period. It looks like a clever way to sack us without consulting anybody, it is sad,” lamented a female staff member while waving her leave letter.
The aggrieved workers who addressed the media in Kitui town on Saturday said the principal; Mrs Catherine Irungu called police on them to clear from their places of work. They claimed she made the decision alone since there was no Board of Management meeting called to ratify the unpopular decision.
In the letters which have been seen by our reporter, Mrs Irungu says she has taken the decision to send the workers on unpaid leave due to lack of funding from the national government. She says low student enrolment has also made it difficult for the institution to raise funds to run the school.
“The government’s late remittance of grants that support personnel emoluments vote head leaves this management with no option….it has been decided you proceed on indefinite leave without pay until you get further communication from this office,” the principal says in the signed letters dated June 22.
The staff members, some of whom have worked at the college since its start in 2010 are however not convinced. They read malice and mischief in the whole affair.
“Imagine we are servicing loans, and now with these letters, our guarantors will also be in trouble. Let this thing be looked at keenly because people are suffering. One of us attempted suicide last week due to depression,” noted another affected staff member.
The college principal has copied the letters to Kitui labour office. Curiously, the ministry of education is not copied. Is the ministry aware of the goings on at the college?
We have also established that the college, a key institution in Kitui County has gone for over two months without electricity.
“Yes the power was disconnected due to unpaid bills. Nobody bothers, even computer classes cannot be undertaken because there is no power,” said another worker who asked not to be named.
The college’s business school, which is run by fees paid by the students has also been grounded since teachers have not been paid.
“You wonder why those in business school are not paid yet students are paying fees. There are so many questions that remain unanswered,” the staff member added.
According to reliable sources, the aggrieved workers are quietly organizing a demo to coincide with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit in Kitui County where they hope to air their grievances.
While this is happening, a team of contractors and suppliers who owe the college in excess of Ksh20 million for unpaid services have decided to move to court to compel the institution to pay them.
One of the companies is demanding Sh2.1 million as part of payment for construction of a multipurpose hall at the college. The principal said her letters were self explanatory and she had nothing more to add.