Inside Nairobi city council pay package where city guides earn more than teachers and nurses

County staff should be a happy lot if the new pay structure is implemented given that nearly all professionals will earn non-practicing allowance. [Photo, Standard]

Guiding visually impaired people and those who use wheel chairs will now be one of the most lucrative jobs in Nairobi if the county government implements the new pay structure for its employees.

According to the controversial collective bargaining agreement (CBA) being contested by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, officers who are visually impaired and those who use wheel chairs will now be paid a monthly guide allowance of Sh40,000.

There is however no mechanism of ensuring this money ends up in the pockets of actual guides in exchange of their service and sacrifice helping county officials navigate the painful roads in Nairobi.

County staff should be a happy lot if the new pay structure is implemented given that nearly all professionals will earn non-practicing allowance.

Generous allowances

Non-practicing allowance will also no longer be a preserve of doctors. Planners, surveyors, valuers, architects, engineers, lawyers, certified accountants, certified secretaries, procurement officers and even human resource officers working in Nairobi County will earn an extra Sh20,000”‘to encourage and retain professionalism in the county”.

“Non-practice allowance shall be implemented irrespective of the job group,” the collective bargaining agreement reads in part.

Medical doctors will also be handsomely rewarded. For instance, besides their pay, a medical doctor in Nairobi at Job Group L will earn a doctor’s allowance of Sh66,000, Sh30,000 as risk allowance, Sh12,000 as practicing allowance and another Sh30,000 as extraneous allowance.

County staff will no longer earn peanuts in house allowances. Top staff in job groups N and P will now earn Sh40,000 and Sh45,000 as house allowances. Officers required by the county to wear uniforms will be paid a uniform allowance of Sh30,000 every year.

Officers traveling on official duty and staying overnight away from their duty station and make arrangements for their accommodation will have handsome allowances of Sh16,000 per day for the top job cadres while those at the bottom will take at least Sh10,000.

These allowances are higher than what most private companies pay.

Extraneous allowances will be an icing on the cake given that besides overtime, those who work over and above the official working hours excluding health workers will take home allowances of between Sh20,000 to Sh25,000.  

Officers handling firearms will also have a Sh4,000 firearm handling allowance for their troubles.

“This allowance is payable to officers who have been issued licenced firearms approved by the county secretary,” the pay agreement signed between the Nairobi County Government and the Kenya County Government Workers Union in May 2017 reads in part.

Only the salaries commission stands in the way of this handsome pay package that will see the county rival some listed companies and in its allowances structure.

SRC, which has rushed to court to block its implementation, says the new pay will increase the wage bill by Sh1.6 billion, which in its assessment will be unaffordable.

The CBA was registered at the Employment and Labour Relations Court in September last year and was to take effect this year. “The CBA under contention has been negotiated, signed and registered at the Employment and Labour Relations Court without the commission’s advice. This was in blatant disregard of the constitutional mandate of the SRC,” the commission says in its detailed analysis that formed its basis for opposition.

It notes that the county and its employees went ahead and struck a deal without involving it as required by the law, only to bring them in at the last stage when it was too late.

“The parties (employer and employee) under Clause 47 of the CBA have stated that the agreement is subject to the advise of SRC, yet the advice was not sought. The parties are acknowledging that prior advice on parameters for negotiation ought to have been sought and obtained from SRC before negotiation and signing of the CBA,” it notes.

The commission says it has analysed the submitted CBA against the principles of affordability, sustainability, equity and fairness and equal pay for work of equal value and noted that it has several anomalies, including the negotiation process, cycle, scope, affordability and the form, which make the CBA in its current form difficult to implement.

“An analysis of the cost implication of the basic salary, house and commuter allowance is estimated to be Sh1,600,077,378 per annum.”

It notes that the counties audited financial statements for the past three years (2016/17, 2015/16 and 2015/14) had a disclaimer opinion.

The auditor could not form an opinion on the statements due to material mis-statements and discrepancies in the figures, including lack of properly kept financial records.

Unreliable figures

“The figures cannot therefore be fully relied upon to make decisions,” SRC notes.

The statements indicate that the county has been making profits of Sh213.5 million in average over the three years.

Even if the financial records were accurate, any increase in the expenditure in terms of compensation to employees above the Sh214 million is neither affordable nor sustainable, it adds. It is not clear if the county offered the generous allowances to please its workers, knowing that they will be rejected having not consulted the SRC or its lawyers just intentionally misled it.

SRC argues that left unchallenged, the county wage bill will hurt development funding to critical areas necessary to deal with the pressing issues facing the county. “A high public wage-bill will continue to be a big threat to development and enhanced service delivery. In addition, this will create fiscal deficits, leading to unsustainable levels of public debt,” SRC argues. The current ratio for personnel emoluments to total revenue for Nairobi County is 52.3 per cent which is above the recommended 35 per cent under the PFM Act.

“The Nairobi County is therefore spending more on personnel emoluments at the expense of development. The county must therefore, take into account fiscal sustainability without crowding out resources for service delivery and development,” SRC says.

The pay rise is also raising fears that it could have a ripple effect with all the other similarly placed workers in the other counties demanding a similar increase in their remuneration and benefits, at a huge cost to the counties.

“The estimated ripple effect in 31 counties whose data was available is estimated at Sh23.5 billion per annum,” the commission argues.