MOMBASA, Kenya, Apr 23 – The Dock Workers Union has joined the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) in criticising the reduction of legislators’ perks by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).
The union’s Secretary General Simon Sang argues that the action goes against internationally accepted practices and sets a bad precedent.
“International labour practice demands that an employer cannot reduce any benefits which have been enjoyed for more than six months,” he argued.
Sang adds that the SRC should have instead increased the salaries of public servants in the lower job groups in order to reduce the wage discrepancy in the public sector, “If the reason is harmonisation then the best way is creating a bridge between the lowest and the highest paid like we did in Kenya Ports Authority in 2009. We did not bring down the higher pay but instead we bridged the gap.”
The dock workers’ representative has gone on to accuse the SRC of taking advantage of the protection the Constitution affords them to trample on the rights of Members of Parliament (MPs) by reducing their salaries from Sh851, 000 to Sh535, 000 without consulting them.
Sang has defended the MPs saying that the amount of work they carry out is immense and they deserve to be commensurately compensated.
The debate over the legislators’ pay was ignited by the Igembe South Member of the National Assembly Mithika Linturi who is lobbying for the removal of the SRC commissioners on account of the salary reduction.
Linturi’s petition has elicited varied reactions since he made his intentions known on Thursday with the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights expressing their opposition to the move unlike COTU and the Dock Workers Union.
The civil society has accused the MPs behind Linturi of being greedy given they are not required to hold degrees and has threatened to mobilise the public in recalling Linturi and his backers.
The MPs have however come out fighting with Dagoretti North MP Simba Arachi arguing that they are not asking for a pay rise but the restoration of their salaries to that of the 10th Parliament that immediately preceded them.
Arachi has also dismissed as empty the threat to recall them, “My constituents have no problem with me demanding the eight hundred thousand. They’d only have a problem if I asked for more than that and I want to challenge those with degrees and masters, off course me being one of them, to try and see if they can be elected.”