On his first day in office, Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki suspended 1,000 workers indefinitely as part of his promised staff rationalisation.
Addressing the press from his Kathwana office, the county chief said among those suspended were 660 casual workers who consume Sh6.52 million a month.
Others are 289 workers who were employed on open contracts and 112 nurses who were employed as substitutes for the striking nurses.
According to Mr Njuki, this was just the beginning of a two-week process to clean up the payroll.
“The process is aimed at streamlining our workforce with a view to reducing the wage bill, which stands at 65 per cent of revenue. Some of the suspended workers were employed unprocedurally, without even going through the interviewing process,” he said.
The governor said most of the nurses were relatives of some county staff.
He added: “We understand that the nurses are on strike but we are planning to meet them to negotiate how they can get back to work. It is better to have no nurse in the hospital than quacks.”
He said thorough investigations would be conducted before the workers know their fate. He called for support from Tharaka Nithi residents, saying the process was painful but would save the county millions of shillings.
An audit is planned to identify the genuine workers and eliminate redundancy, Njuki said.
“Tharaka Nithi County spends 65 per cent of its revenue on workers’ payments as opposed to the required 30 per cent. We want to reduce the wage bill from the current Sh200 million to Sh100 million,” he said.