Row erupts over COTU nominee to salaries body

December 15, 2011 2:47 pm


The committee will regulate and harmonise salaries in the public service/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – A union representing the public sector on Thursday expressed concern over a decision by Parliament to approve the controversial Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) nominee to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

The unregistered Federation of Public Sector Trade Unions Secretary General David Okuta accused Parliament of disregarding a court order restraining the approval of Isaiah Kubai to the membership of the proposed commission.

“The committee (Finance) deferred Mr Kubai’s nomination pending finalisation of judicial review proceedings which we believe was fair and justified,” Okuta said at a Press Conference.

On Tuesday, Parliament’s Finance Committee endorsed 12 names to the commission except that of Kubai but parliament later approved a list including his name on Wednesday through an amendment.

The 14-member committee is expected to regulate and harmonise salaries in the public service.

Okuta said teachers and civil servants had resolved to register the Federation of Public Sector Trade Unions to ensure full representation of public servants at the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

“Since COTU is an umbrella body of private sector trade unions, its nominee cannot effectively and competently cater for the interests of a rival body,” he said.

“Parliament should respect the wish of the public sector trade unions and they should wait for us to get organised just as is the case with the Police Service Commission (yet to be formed),” Okuta said.

The Federation of Public Sector Trade Unions has now appealed to President Mwai Kibaki not to consent to the list with the name in contention since public servants were not represented.

“We still reject the choice of Mr Kubai and COTU as legitimate representative of public servants at the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and we would like to appeal to the President to rescind the decision and give us time to come up with a nominee who will represent our interests as public servants,” Okuta pleaded.

Meanwhile, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has demanded that the government implements a new salary increment for teachers’ failure to which they will take industrial action in January.

Okuta who is also the secretary general of KNUT said on Thursday that they were preparing a memorandum to issue to government on the need to increase salaries due to the high cost of living.

“Our teachers have said without reservation that they want us to take drastic measures to make sure that the legal notice 534 is implemented, otherwise they are prepared to down their tools because we cannot go on negotiating over things that were negotiated, concluded, legalised and gazetted,” the union representative said.

The teachers also wanted the State to immediately begin payment of leave allowance to all teachers; clear arrears amounting to Sh16 billion owed to retired teachers since 1997 and implement various agreements entered into between government and KNUT since 1997.

“Medical allowance has remained at six percent instead of the agreed 20 percent, hardship allowance which was supposed to be 30 percent has remained below 15 percent and therefore if this legal notice is anything, if it is really legal, it has to be implemented and that one is not negotiable,” he stated.


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