NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) has given the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) a one-week ultimatum to withdraw a recent gazette notice setting pay for officials in State corporations.
COTU says the commission’s mandate is limited to civil servants and other State officers as defined in the constitution, but not those working in parastatals.
Speaking on Sunday on behalf of the COTU Secretary General, the Communications Workers Union Secretary General Benson Okwaro warned that failure by the commission to withdraw the notice will compel them to seek redress in court.
He said an employee of any parastatal cannot be considered to be employed in the public service because a parastatal is not a State organ by virtue of not having been established under the constitution.
“Article 260 of the constitution defines what State officers are. They include the President, the Deputy President, Cabinet Secretary, Member of Parliament, Judges and Magistrates and Members of the County Assembly. It goes further to define that a State officer means a person holding a State office,” Okwaro stated. “How on earth do you again expect an employee in say the Kenya Power or Kenya Broadcasting Corporation to be a State officer?”
Okwaro, who was accompanied by other leaders in the organisation, said their position was supported by the Attorney General who told the State Corporation Advisory Committee that the guidelines issued by the SRC do not apply to parastatals.
He said the commission is in contravention of the provisions of Section 41(5) of the constitution which provides that every union, employer and employee has the right to engage in a Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“When we made the constitution and established the commission. The mission was to normalise the terms and conditions of employees. But we are not supposed to start acting in a manner that will even reduce the salaries of employees whose salaries had already been negotiated,” he said.
COTU members have also threatened to stage peaceful demonstrations if the commission remains hesitant about the changes.
Among others, one of the key mandates of the SRC is to inquire into and determine the salaries and remuneration to be paid out of public funds to State officers and other public officers.