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University staff want more robust debate on pension deductions

KUSU Secretary General Charles Mukhwaya. [Samson Wire, Standard]

University employees are against the implementation of a proposal to increase social security fund deductions without public participation.

The government is planning to increase the deductions from Sh200 to six per cent of one’s gross salary as captured in the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Act.

Kenya Universities Staff Union (Kusu) Secretary General Charles Mukhwaya and chairman Philip Onyango said the proposals are good but require the input of all major stakeholders.

“The magnitude of six per cent from Sh200 could be unfair. The government must first increase the living wage of all civil servants. Our demand is that the government ought to improve the wages and then we have a sitting to discuss how to increase the deductions,” said Mukhwaya.

He said the contributions as currently constituted need a review.

“However, first things first, where is the new salary increment? The cost of living has skyrocketed; Kenyans are hardly surviving. Maybe not all public servants want to save, maybe they are in other saving schemes, public participation needs to be considered first.”

His concerns were echoed by Onyango who said that the directions the matter was taking may not be favourable to a number of Kenyans.

“This calls for other measures, the idea is not bad, but we need to have adequate time to consider all possible scenarios. The idea needs to be processed well, we need to have a common understanding of the issue.”

James Makori, Kusu’s national treasurer said the government had formed a habit of deducting civil servants’ salaries whenever it falls short of tax.

“Let us not convert workers into slaves, public workers can no longer afford basic services,” said Makori.

According to Makori, President William Ruto must rethink the whole idea.

The officials also took issue with the management of Kisii University which has been unable to pay the more than 204 sacked university staff.

“The position is that the university pays the money or reinstates the affected staff.  We cannot have some staff enjoying their salaries while the rest are suffering.