NAIROBI, April 20 – Unionisable workers of Telkom Kenya have rejected a 10 percent salary hike proposed by the company’s management and are instead calling for fresh negotiations.
Communication Workers Union of Kenya Secretary-General Benson Okwaro termed the increment an ‘insult to the workforce’ as it fell far below the recommendation given by audit firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), who were consultants for a four-year restructuring programme for Telkom.
According to the Okwaro, the international accounts and audit firm recommended that the lowest paid employee at the company should get at least a 202 percent pay increase once the restructuring was over.
“Currently all the management staff newly employed are earning the new salaries. The union is demanding their members also be compensated at levels the management team is enjoying”, he said.
PWC was engaged to advise on job evaluation, grading staff levels and the corresponding salaries.
He said that the union only agreed to work together with the government and the company to reduce the staff levels due to expectations of better salaries.
“We cannot take the 10% award being offered to us with 3,033 employees currently in Telkom Kenya Limited, while four years ago with 18,000 employees we were able to get the same 10%. What did we retrench for?” posed Okwaro.
The union questioned why Telkom Kenya was refusing to give them salaries that had been promised to them yet they achieved a staff level of 3,033 employees, which fell below the PWC recommendation of a 3,150-strong workforce.
Okwaro said that on Monday they would issue the mandatory 21-day strike notice to the Minister for Labour and Human Development, plus call for a go slow and a boycott of the company’s services.
He cautioned that the union would not allow the company to frustrate employees with threats of retrenchment and overloading them with work.
“If at the end of the 21 days they will not have met with us to resolve the issue then we will be left without any choice but to ask our members to down their tools so that they can fight for their rights,” he said.
Okwaro explained that the decision was made after negotiations between the union and management officials, which began on April 10, collapsed.
He said: “After three meetings they (management) still maintain paying a 10% increase to our members, an increase of less than Sh2,000. That in our view is not a fair award considering the amount of work our members are doing today.”