Civil servants threaten to strike over high taxes


Union of Kenya Civil Servants Secretary General and Nyatike MP Tom Odege during the signing ceremony of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Government and the Union of Kenya Civil Servants at the Harambee House, Nairobi. September 11, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Union of Civil Servants Secretary General Tom Odege has vowed to lead workers in industrial action against President William Ruto’s administration over high taxes.

Mr Odege said the government has overburdened workers with tax and threatened  to lead workers to down tools in 2024.

The Union Secretary General, who is also Nyatike MP, argued that public servants have nowhere to hide since their salary is paid by the government, which deducts the taxes at will.

He noted that more than 70,000 civil servants at the national and county governments have up to 60 per cent of their salary taxed by the government.

“Those working for the government and members need to roll up their sleeves and push the government. The only way is to organise a strike,” Odege said.

In August last year, the Salaries and Remunerations Commission (SRC) chairperson Lyn Mengich, announced a seven per cent to 10 per cent increase in civil servants' salaries.

The increase was aimed at cushioning government workers against inflation.

However, Odege, downplayed the pay increase saying workers were losing up to 60 per cent of their income after the introduction of the housing levy, new PAYE rate, NSSF and NHIF deductions.

The union secretary general said the pay increase was not being felt due to increased taxation on worker’s salaries amidst the high cost of living.

“It is very clear that those working for the government and Kenya currently are not living but surviving because the 40 per cent they take home is not enough for them,” Odege said.

He said the pay increase translated to a double tax on workers’ salaries, hence depleting their pay slips more.

The secretary general, who promised to rally workers to down tools vowed to resist the high taxes imposed on the workers.

“We cannot purport to be working for the government when we cannot make ends meet,” he said.

Odege advised the government to allow workers to have money in their pockets, saying that the economy suffers most if workers don’t have money to spend.

He said money withdrawn from workers and kept in state coffers is not helping at all.