NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 7 – The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has dismissed reports that it is responsible for the ongoing nurses strike due to its failure to give a nod to a proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Commission Chairperson Sarah Serem told the media on Tuesday that the SRC had given the Council of Governors (CoG) all the requisite support to guide the negotiations with the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) but those parameters were not met.
“Despite all its efforts since February 2017, to ensure the CBA is concluded within the shortest time possible, this has not been achieved. It is regrettable that the blame in honouring the CBA is being placed on the doorsteps of SRC,” Serem said at SRC offices at Williamson House.
She said that the commission since February had constantly given timely advice to County Governments under the auspices of CoG to ensure any deal reached was in the interest of the taxpayer.
According to Serem, the Commission engaged with both KNUN and CoG in February 2017 with an advisory guideline being given on March 9.
On the “no objection letter” that CoG Chairperson Josphat Nanok said it was seeking before signing the 2017-2021 CBA whose implementation cost is quoted at Sh40.3 billion, Serem said the governors had failed to provide evidence of budgetary allocation for the implementation of the agreement on whose basis the commission would determine the affordability and sustainability of the pact.
“SRC provided further guidance on 27th March 2017 where we asked the employing agency to ensure that the CBA is negotiated within the parameters provided and that they should provide evidence of budgetary allocation from either internally generated funds of allocation from the National Treasury for the implementation of the proposed reviews on the financial items of the CBA,” she said.
The commission also pointed out glaring inconsistencies in the draft deal including a proposed Sh15,400 Health Risk Allowance, which exceeded SRC’s recommended range of Sh5,000. This, according to Serem, would cost a whooping Sh13 billion to implement the risk allowance aspect alone of the CBA in four years.
Serem also pointed out other irregularities in the draft CBA which included Sh40,000 annual allocation for uniform allowance per nurse, a figure she said was exaggerated.
She said that the Commission had recommended that the uniform aspect be put on the shoulders of respective hospitals to avoid incidences of a ballooning wage bill under unjustified circumstances.
According to Serem, the continuous request of the “no objection letter” by governors was in fact dishonest, since due process was not followed in drafting the CBA.
Anne Gitau, the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission who accompanied Serem pointed out that it was agreed that the grading structure and basic salary payable to nurses will be handled by the job evaluation exercise.
On the uniform allowance which was paid at Sh10,000 per annum , the Commission recommended the removal of the allowance from the payroll and instead be placed under operations and maintenance where nurses shall be provided with uniforms by respective employers.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that there is equal pay for equal work but one must ensure that whatever is negotiated is affordable, sustainable, its impact across all public institutions is tenable and competitive,” Serem said.