Kenya workers union has castigated the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) for freezing salary review for public sector employees for the next two financial years, starting next month.
The Central Organization for Trade Unions (COTU), has termed the move by the commission as illegal.
Addressing a press conference, the workers union has consequently given SRC two weeks to reverse the order or mobilise a nationwide strike.
Teachers who are affected by the decision have also weighed in on the issue.
The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) in a statement, said the union was dismayed by the SRC announcement, but this will not distract the union from its demand for salary increment.
KUPPET Secretary General, Akello Misori further said the union had initiated a process of re-engaging the Teachers Service Commission ahead of the expiry of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and it would consider all the options available in the coming weeks.
He accused the SRC of purporting to block all salary reviews when some cadres in the civil service have been accorded salary and allowance increments in the current financial year.
KUPPET has scheduled the National Executive meeting next week where it is expected to issue a comprehensive statement on the issue.
For the last six years, the government has been battling a stubborn high public wage bill that has increased from Kshs. 526 billion in 2013/2014 to Kshs. 827 billion in the current financial year.
The public wage bill has worsened over the last five years as most counties embarked on a hiring spree to complement their existing workforce.
SRC Chairperson Lynn Mengich says the decision was based on the economic slowdown following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic coupled with efforts to manage the ballooning wage bill.
“Public sector institutions will be required to fully implement the allowances and benefits policy…SRC will review the situation after two fiscal years and based on the status of the economy,” said Mengich.
According to the SRC in the 2019/2020 financial year, the wage bill increased by Kshs. 32 billion compared to Kshs. 795 billion in the 2018/2019 financial year.
The National Treasury is under pressure from Bretton Woods institutions to rationalize the public wage bill.
A fiscal consolidation strategy from the National Treasury to the International Monetary Fund indicates that the government will freeze hiring and pay hikes to reduce wage bill to 5.4pc of GDP in FY2020/21 to about 3pc by FY2022/23.
The SRC however says ongoing pay talks in various institutions will proceed as planned.
“No additional funding will be provided for implementation of the job evaluation results in the FY 2021/22 and FY2022/2023. Public sector institutions may implement job evaluation results by placing jobs in their rightful job evaluation grading within the existing salary structure and approved budgets subject to confirmation to SRC that the funding is provided for in the current budget,” said Mengich.