FRUSTRATED

Over 1,700 graduate officers threaten to resign over poor pay, discrimination

In a petition in court on September 5, the graduate officers want Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and Kinuthia jailed for contempt of court.

In Summary

• The officers through their officials claimed that despite winning their court petition on discrimination, some of them are yet to have their salaries revised to Job Group J.

•Police spokesman Charles Owino says that police promotions are done based on strengths and establishment.

Police constables during a graduation ceremony at Kiganjo Training College in Nairobi.
Police constables during a graduation ceremony at Kiganjo Training College in Nairobi.
Image: Courtesy

In what could be a huge blow to the National Police Service, 1,774 graduate police officers have threatened to resign over what they term as poor pay and discrimination in the National Police Service.

Some of their representatives told the Star that they have been pushed to the wall by their employer, the National Police Service Commission, hence have no other alternative in pursuit of justice having won a court petition on discrimination.

One allegedly committed suicide.

 

NPSC chief executive officer Joseph Onyango confirmed the matter has been appealed and thus could not comment much about it.

“To start with, the commission spokesperson is Eliud Kinuthia, who is currently in a meeting. But I can confirm the matter is in court and we can’t comment much about it,” Onyango said on the phone.

Kinuthia did not respond to our calls and messages.

In March last year, over 1,400 officers reportedly tendered their resignations after the NPSC issued a directive to the salary department at police headquarters to effect a pay cut. They were graduate police and those disabled in the line of duty, and their salaries were reduced by as much as half.

In a petition in court on September 5, the graduate officers want Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and Kinuthia jailed for contempt of court.

They accused them of being in contempt of court by declining to increase their pay as directed by the court.

In May, the officers won a case against Mutyambai and NPSC after judge Byram Ongaya ruled that graduates should get salaries equivalent to officers in the ranks of Inspector of Police and chief inspectors in Job Group J.

 

The complainants are drawn from officers from the general duty, GSU, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, and Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit.

The officers through their officials claimed that despite winning their court petition on discrimination, some of them are yet to have their salaries revised to Job Group J.

“We have decided to expose the truth and why our respondents are not telling the facts,” one of the officers said.

The officers spoke to the Star in Nairobi this week.

“Having won our petition, we are yet to have our salaries upgraded to Job Group J, despite our documents showing we are graduates,” the officer who did not want to be named for fear of victimization said.

They claimed that their employer has grounded its defense on course approval, career progression guidelines and wage bill as reasons they are not to upgrade the salaries.

“Our employer has been telling the general public that there is an established procedure in which police officers wishing to pursue degree courses after their recruitment are required to obtain course approval and consent from the service. What NPSC chairman and IG are saying is that the Police Service Training Regulations Guidelines is the only document in NPS that features the policy on course approval,” he said.

The guideline stipulates: “Any officer who seeks to commence his/her studies from the month of September 2017 must seek course approval.”

This simply means that the targeted prospective group is yet to graduate hence the already graduated police officers are non-party to this policy of course approval,” another officer said.

They say it is unfair for them to continue receiving less cash compared to graduate colleagues they passed out with, and still continue to pay Helb loans.

Some of the payslips, they showed the Star indicate some officers take home as low as Sh7,000 after deductions.

VIGILANCE POSITION

However, Police spokesman Charles Owino said there were misunderstandings among the complainants.

Owino said the NPS was in compliance with relevant policies as far as recruitment, promotions and compensations are concerned.

He dismissed corruption claims in the service, saying police promotions are done based on strengths and establishment — the actual number of the officers on the ground and the numbers that is required respectively.

“Constables form the bulk of the service. We only recruit one graduate into the service per subcounty in every recruitment,” Owino told the Star in his office on Wednesday.

Owino explained that all officers are initially recruited as constables despite their education qualifications. Those who enter into service as graduates get promoted after three years to Job Group J as inspectors which, comes with increments in perks.

This, he said, is according to the existing policies, some of which were ratified as early as in 1995.

He noted that there was a rapid increase in the number of graduate officers with the introduction of parallel degree programmes.

He thus noted that available chances of promotion and the budget they get cannot accommodate all those who graduate while still serving.

On wage bill, the IG and NPSC chairman in a joint statement on NPSC website (npsc.go.ke) on the May 17 judgment by Employment and Labour Relations Court states that, if the1,774 graduate officers (petitioners) are paid job group J salaries like their colleagues, it would have serious implications on the budget as the government will require Sh928 million annually, which is not tenable.

Owino said there is no adequate budgetary allocation to effect the promotions and pay rise as demanded by the complainants.

The officers disputed the argument saying, “What we fail to understand is now that the NPSC and NPS have been upgrading salaries of some graduate officers selectively, leaving us out, does this justify fair labour practices? Are we children of lesser gods to warrant such a wanton discriminative pay practices being meted on us?”

The officers said most of them are frustrated with life due to the discrimination.

 “Some of our colleagues have threatened to end their own lives, they can persevere no more,” said another e officer.

The officers, however, confided to the Star for fear of vindication due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The police spokesperson urged the complainants to be patient as the opportunities will always avail themselves, especially now that more police stations are being created across the country.

The spokesman added that with retirements and mortality, various qualified officers have always benefited from promotions.

RULING

On May 17, Judge Byram Ongaya, ruled that, “the declaration that the respondents’ conduct and action amounts to denial, violation, infringement and or threat to the fundamental rights and freedoms of Graduate Constable Officers’ rights under Articles 41(1) and (2) (a) and (b), and 47 of the Constitution of Kenya”.

Ongaya added that the declaration that Graduate Police Officers on a salary scale below Job Group J nad yet similarly qualified as Graduate Police Officers in Job Group J are entitled to be emplaced to pay scale of graduate constables equivalent to the pay of an Inspector of Police Job Group J.

“The order of Mandamus is hereby issued directed at 1st and 2nd respondents to pay all graduate constables salaries equivalent to pay of an Inspector of Police Job Group J and as per the prevailing 1st respondent’s policy as clarified in the ……,” he added.

The officers sought President Uhuru Kenyatta and Interior CS Fred Matiang’i’s intervention to ensure the court rulings are adhered to and the pay rise effected.

They said there can be no reforms in police service without justice.

Their threats come at a time where several police officers have been arrested in connection with various criminal activities, including robbery with violence.