SRC, Parliament in fresh row over dock workers pay

MPs declare commission has no mandate to craft regulations and enforce the same without House approval

In Summary
  • Dock Workers Union accuse commission of being a stumbling block to their bid for pay rise.
  • The union lamented the non-implementation of the CBA which had been agreed and signed between the workers and the Kenya Ports Authority.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has come under fire for declining to approve a pay increase for Kenya Ports Authority workers.

This elicited a fresh fight between MPs and the salaries team, with lawmakers saying the SRC cannot purport to enforce regulations without the approval of Parliament.

The Dock Workers Union, through a petition to the National Assembly, wants lawmakers to revoke the directive stopping their CBA, which was signed in March.

The union lamented the non-implementation of the CBA which had been agreed and signed between the workers and the Kenya Ports Authority.

The National Treasury had equally approved the agreement setting the stage for the row pitting the SRC and the lawmakers.

Secretary general Simon Sang said SRC has overstepped its mandate in refusing to approve the pay increase unjustifiably.

“We are happy that somehow, certain issues that caused the delay are likely to be sorted out as the issues in the CBA had been agreed to and signed,” Sang said.

“Treasury and KPA have no problem at all. We are not state officers. Advisory by SRC was taken care of. We shouldn't allow the commission to be a regulator other than being an advisory.”

He argued that a CBA cannot be opened once signed. “Do they want us to reopen negotiations?” he asked.

But SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich said there was a challenge with the way in which the CBA was signed, saying the provision for 10 per cent increase over two years is not feasible.

She argued that KPA first requested for the 10 per cent increase factored on basic salary to apply over the four years, arguing that it is not affordable.

But the petitioner—Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir—said SRC was out to mislead the committee on what they actually agreed on with the KPA, by extension the National Treasury.

“It would have been prudent to give us a chronology. They didn't provide document of 10 per cent over four years and 16 per cent over four years— which was approved by the KPA board,” he said.

However, Mengich said the commission approved what the Treasury approved, which MPs led by Labour committee chairman Kabinga Wachira ,rejected.

“The SRC advice is mandatory. If an employer feels uncomfortable they can write back for SRC to review. KPA came back and sought further advice,” the SRC boss said.

She said, when it comes to CBAs, the commission only advises the employer.

“We don't deal with unions. Any discussion would be with KPA. The first advisory was based on their request.”

“If we push pay for one sector way above anyone, we risk running into problems. We must think of the consequences considering that the pay review freeze is on for the two years,” Mengich said.

She asked MPs to look at the wider context and consider that the SRC’s responsibility is to the entire public sector.

-Edited by SKanyara