9 February 2013

Kenya: FKE Demands Reduction in Public Wage Bill

Echoing the stand taken by the Cabinet, the Federation of Kenya Employers says the public wage bill still needs to be reduced further following the release of a new pay structure by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) on Tuesday.

"We find the proposed remuneration levels still too high. They should be scaled down further to reflect what is available in the private sector market," the federation's chairman Erastus Mwongera said at a press briefing on Friday.

A statement sent to newsrooms by the Presidential Press Service earlier in the day read: "The Cabinet expressed concern that the measures announced by SRC are not adequate and more steps should be taken to further reduce the wage bill. In this regard, a Cabinet sub-committee was formed to study the SRC report and develop comprehensive measures to further control the escalation of the public wage bill."

The SRC is currently carrying out nationwide public hearings on the proposed pay structure.

Mwongera also called on the SRC to speed up its review of all public officer salaries to secure more funds for development. "The SRC should immediately embark on a similar exercise to come up with a pay structure for all public officers because this will ensure that more funds will be available for development expenditure rather than for the recurrent expenditure as is the case now."

FKE like the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) is against the immediate implementation of the new National Hospital Insurance Fund rates.

"This matter has dragged on for a while since the key stakeholders to this issue have not been accorded an opportunity to agree on the best way forward," FKE Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo explained, "There is still a pending case at the Court of Appeal filed by the domestic workers union which is yet to be heard."

The timing, Mugo added, could create the impression that politicians are trying to raise funds for their campaigns.

"We have also always questioned the timing of the changes in the contribution levels. We believe that this is a matter that should be discussed outside the heat of the political climate and the election campaigns lest the wrong view be sent that this is money being looked for, for campaign reasons."

Mugo also chastised political alliances for not detailing in their manifestos how they plan to recruit public officers such as Cabinet Secretaries and Ambassadors and pleaded with them to be careful with the utterances they make.

"Most of the manifestos have some wonderful plans with regard to growing the economy but on labour relations they are all very silent.

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