SRC: The salary reviewer who keeps on subtracting

 SRC: The salary reviewer who keeps on subtracting

Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) chairperson Lynn Mengich.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) occasionally makes news and when it does, public servants jeer and sneer at the recommendations it puts forward.

Its tendency to almost always vouch for the reduction of state officers’ wages and allowances has made it an object of scorn from employees across all levels of government.

Postbank Board Chair Sarah Serem, who is a former chairperson of SRC, courted controversy in 2017 by trying to rationalize the pay for Members of the National Assembly to reflect the “performance of the economy.”

Her proposals at the time suggested that MPs should take a cut in basic pay, and forfeit a total of five allowances, including Kes5 million car grant, to save the government Kes9 billion.

Legislators would have none of that and following litigation at the High Court, Mr Justice George Odunga halted the implementation of Ms Serem’s proposed pay structure.

Her successor and current chair Lynn Mengich is also earning notoriety in her attempts at discharging duties in the office that seeks to ensure fiscal sustainability in the remuneration of public workers.

Mr Mengich’s recently issued a revised pay structure to county governments, asking them to cut Early Childhood Teachers’ (ECD) salaries significantly.

In a circular delivered last month, SRC recommended a wage reduction of up to Kes10,000 for the highest paid nursery teachers.

For instance, ECD teachers in group H will take home Kes8,804, down from Kes18,270 representing more than a 50 percent slash if the proposal is adopted.

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Unsurprisingly, ECD tutors’ unions have come out with a barrage of attacks directed at the SRC for its bizzare recommendations, with the Kenya Union of Pre Primary Education Teachers (KUNOPPET) terming it a humiliation of its members.

KUNOPPET Chairman Lawrence Otunga was evidently outraged when he addressed the media on Sunday. “We are not happy with SRC’s decision to humiliate us. Is Kes7,000 enough salary for a teacher? How will a teacher pay house rent and school fees for their children? A teacher also has their personal needs and families to take care of.

“We deny the recommendations from SRC to governors and we say that nursery teachers will not be despised and we are here to fight for the rights of every ECDE teacher,” he said.

The educators have threatened industrial action through the Kenya County Government Workers’ Union (KCGWU) if county public service boards follow through with SRC’s orders.

KCGWU Secretary General Roba Duba said the Ms Mengich-led commission violated the due process acting unilaterally to assign ECD teachers’ pay below the minimum wage.

“At no given time was this union consulted in coming up with the grading and salary structures which is totally against the law. Further take note of the current minimum wage which stands at Kes15,120, notwithstanding the high cost of living,” said Mr Duba.

During the 2017 lawsuit against the SRC, plaintiffs argued that the commission failed to study the labor market efficiency and the prevailing economic situation before setting the new structure, talking points befitting the situation with ECD teachers.

The cost of living has become considerably high in recent days and slashing workers’ wages and benefits certainly do not help them cope.


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