Ann Waiguru sets up team to raise public workers' allowances

Kenya: The Government has agreed to review, upward, hardship and house allowances for all civil servants.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru yesterday formed a taskforce to work out modalities of raising the two allowances that have remained stagnant for over 10 years.

Speaking after meeting officials of the Union of Kenya Civil Servants (UKCS), Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) chairperson Sarah Serem and the Public Service Commission chairperson Margret Kobia, Ms Waiguru said the technical committee should forward its proposals to the Government in three weeks.

“We have heard concerns raised by the union on these two issues. We recognise the issues raised are valid and require agent and comprehensive solution. As a way forward, the meeting has agreed on a technical committee. The purpose of the committee will be to review the allowances and submit a proposal to the Government within the next three weeks,” she said.

The committee is expected to advise on modalities of addressing house and hardship allowances with the aim of reviewing them upwards, this being the second time since 1972. The allowances were last reviewed in 2001.

UKCS Secretary-General Tom Odege said civil servants were disadvantaged in the wake of runaway inflation that has seen the cost of living hit through the roof. “We have agreed that we start with the two allowances which have not been reviewed for many years, given that the SRC is reviewing salaries for civil servants and would set the structure that will be followed. But before then, we feel that the two allowances need urgent attention,” Mr Odege said.

The union argued that the review in 2001 discriminated against junior civil servants mainly in rural areas “who earn a paltry Sh1,800” while favouring the senior civil servants who are majorly in urban areas. “We will play the role of an adviser on the matter with regards to the structures set by the SRC,” Serem said.

SRC has powers to set and regularly review salaries and remuneration for State officers and to advise the national and county governments on the remuneration and benefits of all other public officers. In carrying out its mandate, the commission takes into account principles of fiscal sustainability of the public wage bill, need to attract and retain of requisite skills, transparency, fairness and equity.