4 October 2017

Kenya: Nurses' Strike Beyond Pay and Job Evaluation - SRC

Photo: Joseph Kanyi/Daily Nation
Nurses attend to newborn babies at Consolata Hospital in Nyeri on January 2, 2017.

The national salaries regulator says it is not responsible for the protracted nurses' strike that is in its third month.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) on Wednesday said the job boycott that is in its 115th day is beyond salary raise and the job evaluation it undertook.


SRC Vice Chairman Daniel Ogutu told MPs that the caregivers are pushing for their own commission.

"The complications we have in the medial sector are beyond money," he said.

"People are keen on pushing for their own commissions to push for their interests just like the Teachers Service Commission, among others, does."

He made the comments when he and other SRC officials appeared before National Assembly's special committee formed to scrutinise the Sh10 billion supplementary budget for fresh presidential election.

The SRC wants an additional Sh47 million, which is the supplementary budget, to complete the job evaluation for government employees.


Mr Ogutu defended the request, saying the commission had brought industrial peace since the process started.

The amount is needed to pay two consultants: Price Waterhouse Coopers that is undertaking job evaluation for treasury, public universities, tertiary and research institutions; Earnest and Young that is evaluating disciplined services, police and the military.

SRC did not breakdown the amount each consultant is to be paid.

Mr Ogutu noted that the turbulence and disturbances witnessed in the universities was not related to the commission.

He linked the strikes to working conditions or other details in the workers' contested Collective Bargaining Agreement.


"The commission started harmonisation of salaries about three years ago. We are now at the tail end of the process. We are looking to an even better situation by the time our job is done," Mr Ogutu said.

The commission's mandate is expected to elapse at the end of this year.

Mr Ogutu said this even as Lunga Lunga MP Khatib Mwashetani accused the commission of slashing the salaries of state and public officers, including MPs and senators in a report released in July.

The striking nurses have blamed SRC for their strike, accusing the commission of giving them lower grades they have said are only fit for "unskilled workers".

"My concern is what happened to our salaries? It is wrong to reduce the salaries of public officers arbitrarily," Mr Mwashetani said.


However, Mr Mwashetani was stopped from escalating the debate by committee chairman and Kipkelion East MP Mr Joseph Limo.

"I will not allow you to go that direction. Wait until we are done with the issue at hand," Mr Limo curtly told the Lunga Lunga MP.

The Sh47 million is part of the Sh134.6 million contained in the supplementary estimates.

The commission also wants Sh5 million for gratuity of its two employees who are retiring this year.

The Sh47 million was allocated in the 2016/17 financial year but had not been used by the time the financial year lapsed on June 30, 2017.


The special committee members wondered how the money would appear under supplementary budget when it had been factored in the last financial year that ended in June.

But an official representing Treasury at SRC said the amount was a contractual obligation to the two consultants.

Mr Ken Monyoncho from the SRC secretariat also defended the amount, saying the commission was forced to cancel the initial contract of a consultant who performed below their expectations.

The committee is expected to make its decision on Thursday.

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