More than 3,000 Judiciary support staff have petitioned Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to increase their salaries as he promised them early this year.
The Judiciary employees, including court clerks, plan to form a new union. The proposed Kenya Judiciary Workers Union will fight for better terms and conditions for the workers.
"We will push to register the union because we thought the CJ would go ahead and address our concerns as he had promised himself but he has failed to so", said a representative of the workers.
Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli said workers have the right to join a trade union to negotiate for better pay. The paralegal staff from courts across the country have petitioned the CJ to harmonise salaries in the Judiciary. They said they have been ignored while other employees get hefty salaries and allowances.
The clerks and the other support earn between 7,000 and Ksh 15,000 without any allowances while the Magistrates and Judges whom they serve under earn between Ksh 250,000 and Ksh 1 million monthly.
"We do the donkey work in the courts including all clerical work including typing, filing, interpretation among others including making sure that court files are well kept", said one of the clerks.
He said while they appreciate the reforms undertaken in the judiciary by the CJ, he has forgotten the lower cadre of workers who are core to the system but poorly remunerated.
"The judges have allowances for house helps which are higher than what we earn yet we work in the same courts", he said. Mutunga met with representatives of the workers two month ago and promised to address their concerns but so far nothing has been forthcoming. They have written to the CJ over their grievances.
The employees argue that they are forced to engage in corruption in order to top up what they earn so that they can afford housing and other needs.
"We want all workers to join unions so that they can fight for their rights in a structured way", said Atwoli. The CJ has introduced performance ratings for the paralegal staff but they argue that its wrong to evaluate them when they earn peanuts. The staff also include security personnel. They want the CJ to also ensure they are paid risk and extrenious allowances.