Boon for KPA workers in new overtime pay policy

Kenya Ports Authority workers celebrate after receiving new Managing Director, Capt William Ruto on March 13, 2023. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

There is a relief for 7,000 odd workers at Kenya Ports Authority after the management abandoned the controversial 30-per-cap policy for overtime.

The employees will now work for more hours, translating to better monthly earnings. The overtime payments will vary depending on employee's job group.

The controversial policy meant that employees could only work for extra hours that did not exceed 30 per cent of their monthly earnings.

Dock Workers Union Secretary General, Simon Sang, said the policy was not popular in the port because the workers worked for extra hours without pay in contravention of the labour laws.

Sang said the employees worked overtime against their will, which led to low morale in the port. Yesterday employees interviewed said that in April and May, they worked for more than 124 hours up from the 40 hours limit.

"Workers are happy with the removal of the controversial overtime policy. We expect it to address all the other outstanding issues. This will motivate workers to return the port where it used to be in terms of efficiency," said Sang.

A global Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) released four days ago ranked Mombasa port at position 326 out of 348 in 2022 in terms of efficiency.

This was a sharp decline from 2021 when a similar report ranked it position 293.

The report by the World Bank revealed that Mombasa was overtaken by Tanzania's Dar es Salaam port ranked 312, Djibouti at position 26 and Somali's port of Berbera at 144. A total of 348 ports were used in the survey.

Yesterday, Sang said although they were happy with the new development, the workers were still demanding better terms for the cost of medical benefits.

He said since the new management led by KPA board chairman Benjamin Tayari and Managing Director William Ruto came into office, port operations have improved.

"Since the MD allowed workers to do overtime without too many restrictions we have witnessed high performance of workers," he said.

Sang said the overtime was drastically reduced by the management in 2020 which capped it at 30 per cent of the employees' salary. Initially, all extra work hours were compensated by the management.

Sang also revealed that the union had entered into a consent agreement with KPA management to start afresh about the cost of controversial medical benefits for the workers

"We are happy with KPA because they have agreed we reopen discussion and amend some medical policies which are hurting the well-being of the workers," said Sang.

He said a consent to reopen a discussion about the cost of medical benefits for the workers was signed and filed at the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Mombasa last Friday.

Sang said since there was an agreement to reopen the discussion, the industrial dispute filed by the union in court will not proceed until further notice.

"We have agreed with KPA that the issue touching on the cost of medical cover for the workers will be remitted to Joint Industrial Council for discussion so that the matter is resolved amicably," he said.

Sang said during the negotiation the parties shall be guided by the old medical policy which addressed the issue of the cost of medical benefits adequately.

He noted that workers have rejected the present medical scheme which has been on trial by KPA management as it is not addressing their problems.

By Brian Ngugi 15 mins ago
Premium More delays in Kenya oil dream as State holds up firm's exit plan
By Gerard Nyele 15 mins ago
Premium How a medical crisis birthed a 'varsity' for a Kenyan nurse
Asset growth sees IG Sacco record over a billion shillings in profits
Premium Why lenders are shunning agri-based small enterprises