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Nurses in support of a national strike over salaries impasse

By Collins Matubwi

The Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) has joined other trade unions in protesting the move by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to freeze pay hike for public servants.

Knun now says they are supporting calls by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) to bring services in the public sector to a halt if SRC fail to rescind the decision.

“The National Executive Council (NCE) met on June 19 virtually and agreed that Knun joins other trade unions in push for industrial strike in the public service to protest the move by SRC for sidestepping its mandate,” said Seth Panyako, the union Secretary General.

He said Knun was in talks with all unions in the health sector to also join the bandwagon.

“SRC cannot stop the implementation of Article 41 (5) of the 2010 constitution, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention (98) and the Labour Relations Act that gives workers a right to a better pay," said Panyako

He wondered why SRC did not oppose a proposal in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to increase the number of MPs and Senators and expand the executive as well as endorsing the Sh2million car grant to ward reps.

According to Panyako, SRC commissioners, MPs and state officers are the ones who take home hefty salaries at the expense of other public servants earning meagre salaries “it will be a spat in their face to freeze salary increment while hiding under bloated wage bill claims.”

“SRC cannot stop the implementation of Article 41 (5) of the 2010 constitution, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention (98) and the Labour Relations Act that gives workers a right to a better pay.”

He added: “All proposals must be through a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and SRC has a role in that. If the economy can sustain what is contained in the BBI, why not let public servants be given a salary increment.”

Mr Opetu criticized the government for using SRC to subject public servants to more suffering following the directive, arguing that even medics who were infected with Covid-19 were forced to buy their own oxygen instead of the government covering for the bills.

On June 17, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission announced that it would not be reviewing basic salary structures, allowances, and benefits for civil servants in the financial year 2021/2022 and 2022/2023.

SRC said the decision was arrived at following recommendations by the National Treasury, citing tough economic times and constraints to the budget occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The National Treasury advised the Commission to consider postponing the review for the next two fiscal years until the economy improves, due to the effects of Covid-19 pandemic on the performance of the revenue and the expected slow economic recovery,” SRC said.

SRC through its Chairperson Lynn Mengich said that no additional funding would be provided for the implementation of job evaluation results in the next two fiscal years.

Beside Cotu (K) and Knun, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers and the Union of National Research Institutes Staff of Kenya are also calling for a national strike.

Other unions are the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institution, Hospitals and Allied Workers and the Kenya University Staff Union (Kusu, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet).

Ends

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