Unions step up fight on SRC over pay demands

Monday, September 26th, 2022 06:52 | By
Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union leaders, among them Secretary General Davji Atellah (centre), address the media in Nairobi, yesterday.
Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union leaders, among them Secretary General Davji Atellah (centre), address the media in Nairobi, yesterday.

Workers in the country have trained their guns on the Salaries Remuneration Commission (SRC), accusing it of overstepping its mandate over what they termed as constant interference to Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) with employers.

General secretaries representing nine trade unions yesterday called on the disbandment of SRC, further accusing it of turning into a body that is neither answerable nor accountable to anyone.

“While we respect the advisory role of SRC to employers, we disagree with the overarching role it has abrogated itself of issuing binding advisories without workers’ input through their unions,” the unions said in a statement delivered by the University Staff Union Secretary General Charles Mukhwaya.

Unions reflected on the current impasse between SRC and Members of Parliaments, stating that this confirms fears that the commission was now making unilateral decisions without stakeholder participation as per the law.

“We, therefore, fully identify with parliamentarians and support the calls for the disbandment of the commission, which in our opinion no longer serves the purpose for which it was formed,” the unions said and threatened to launch countrywide protests possibly starting with Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) today after SRC wrote to the hospital management.

On March 14, SRC wrote to the KNH management, advising it to negotiate the CBA for the period 2021-25 with trade unions with a view to retaining the obtaining rates on a number of allowances and to exclude some. The unions noted that this advice was meant for KNH to put aside the negotiated and agreed upon CBA. 

Some of the allowances listed were; basic salary, house, commuter, and leave among others.

Commission also advised KNH not to introduce a token for long service, professional gear allowance, night shift allowance, teaching allowance, communication allowance, professional indemnity insurance, registrar remuneration and professional fee.

Industrial harmony

“Whereas SRC was established to ensure industrial harmony in the public service as envisioned in the Constitution, it has instead become an impediment to the continuous social dialogue between workers and employers,” the unions observed.

Article 231 Section 5 (a) demands of SRC to carry out its mandate in a fair and transparent manner. However, the trade union leaders noted that lately the commission is an opaque body that “consults no one and listens to no one.”

“Its decision to suspend CBA negotiation on monetary gains, and the proposals to scrap allowances have been made without stakeholder participation and is unfair to the Kenyan Workers,” they added.

Union leaders intend to kick off collection of one million signatures in a move intended to eventually disband SRC.

“In the coming days we shall start a multi-pronged approach whose ultimate goal is to disband SRC,” said the unions. They called on SRC to respect the existing industrial harmony between workers and employers through CBA negotiations.

Sections of the Constitution, the unions said, provide legal avenues that safeguard workers’ CBAs with employers, and should be respected.

 “As a result, SRC has turned into a body that is neither answerable or accountable to anyone and makes decisions without stakeholder participation,” unionists said.

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