, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17 – The Trade Unions Congress of Kenya has faulted the recent decision by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to scrap out 33 allowances entitled to public workers.
The union’s General Secretary Wilson Sossion says the commission overstepped its mandate saying it’s only supposed to advise the government salaries and not make any decision.
As a result, Sossion says they have issued a seven-day ultimatum for the commission to withdraw the circular and its contents, failure to which they will proceed to call for a general strike of all public workers.
“The SRC has without due regard to established law, practices and procedures in determining remuneration of public officers frozen any further review of basic salaries for public servants until job evaluation exercise is concluded,” he stated.
“This is outrageous as the SRC is fully aware that all the unions in the sector are engaged in collective bargaining in order to sign tripartite agreements upon conclusion.”
Addressing journalists on Wednesday, he stated the commission did not consult a single union while taking the far-reaching action.
“The SRC is overstepping its constitutional mandate as provided for in Article 230 (4) (b) to advise the national and county governments on the remuneration and benefits of all public officers,” he said.
He pointed out that if the Sarah Serem-led commission implements the proposals, it will greatly hamper the ongoing process of signing tripartite collective bargaining agreements with the government.
“Whereas the SRC is mandated to offer advice to the relevant governments, it has taken upon itself the role of making decisions on the remuneration as in their own words,” he lamented.
“The SRC is exhibiting clear hypocrisy. While they appear readily agreeable to freeze, to set, to limit and to approve what is good to them, the commission passes the burden of leave allowance to the process of CBAs which they have outlawed.”
The government on December 11 said it will save Sh125 billion every financial year as a result of the scrapping some allowances previously given to State officers.
The SRC chairperson said that the public service had over 150 different types of allowances, both remunerative and facilitative.
To address this problem, she said the commission had decided to consolidate some of the allowances and abolish others that were not relevant.
“I think it’s time that we came out as Kenyans, as leaders, to look at our country so that when we are making demands it should be on the basis of affordability,” she stated.
The SRC boss said all this is being done for the purposes of equity and fairness and also to compensate for the cost of living.
The union also joined the Opposition in calling for a withdrawal of the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014 to allow public contribution.
Sossion termed the proposed amendments on the security laws as draconian saying they will infringe on human rights.
He said they were specifically against the clause that proposes the Interior Cabinet Secretary designate a specific area for protestors.
“This will contravene our rights to demonstrate, picket or participate in strikes called by union leadership,” he said. “We wish to declare that we are opposed to that clause in particular and shall do all that is possible to team up with other people of good will to stop the amendment from becoming law.”
Other key proposals include giving the National Intelligence Service (NIS) power to arrest, detain and interrogate suspected terrorists, the removal of security of tenure for the Inspector General of Police, the deputies and also the Director of Criminal Investigation thereby giving the President the power to appoint them.