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House watchdog probes KPA overtime payments

By Willis Oketch | September 3rd 2021

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir (left) with Dock Workers Union (DWU) General Secretary Simon Sang while appearing before House committee on Labour And Social Welfare at English Point Marina in Mombasa. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

A parliamentary committee has started to probe alleged skewed recruitment and promotions policies at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), which operates the port of Mombasa.

The committee on Labour and Welfare is also questioning KPA over alleged mishandling of the overtime payment and delayed implementation of the 2020-21 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). KPA officials had a tough time explaining why promotions due seven years ago have not been effected, and their failure to pay workers bonuses for the fiscal year 2018/2019.

In 2017, KPA capped overtime payment for its workforce at 30 per cent of the employee’s salary. The union has over the years, however, criticised the order saying it was not consulted. Dock Workers Union General Secretary Simon Sang’ told parliament that the capping of overtime has demolarised the workers and affected the productivity of the port.

On overdue promotions, Sang’ through a petition filed by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, said over 600 employees have acted in senior positions for between seven months and seven years. In a letter to DWU, dated August 20, 2021, KPA had indicated that all the positions that had fallen vacant would be advertised. The union insists those serving in an acting capacity should be confirmed.

“The HR manual s explicit that any position falling vacant is required to be advertised within six months. The six months lapsed a long time ago,” states the petition.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

The committee chaired by Mwea MP Kibinga Wachira questioned why CBA signed between KPA and the union nine months ago is yet to be implemented. KPA Human Resource and Administrative General Manager Daniel Ogutu defended KPA against any wrongdoing insisting the corporation was ready to pay the workers’ salary increment when SRC gives them a green light.

“KPA is ready to start implementing the CBA, but it has to be approved by SRC,” said Ogutu. Treasury Cabinet Administrative Secretary Nelson Gaichuhie attended the meeting

Nominated MP Wilson Sossion and a committee member took issues with SRC questioning why the commission was “poking its nose” on industrial disputes which had been resolved by courts.

Sossion said since KPA and the union had signed an agreement of 10 per cent salary agreement effective from January 1, 2020, there was no need for the document to be sent to Kenya Federation of Employers. The MP insisted if a CBA had been signed between the parties after consultation with SRC it should not be renegotiated.

“If the figures for the percentage has been agreed between the parties SRC has no mandate  to reverse it by changing the figures the way it did in the CBA between KPA and Dock Workers Union” said Sosian

Sang complained that the impediment to having CBA implemented was because SRC had changed the figures for the percentage of the increment. He said in 2020/2021 KPA had agreed to increase the salaries of the workers by 10 per cent being spread over two years.

Sang complained that when the CBA was sent back to SRC for approval the commission instead changed the figures to spread for four years has been the dispute as this would reduce the percentage of the increment.

Dock Workers Union (DWU) General Secretary Simon Sang while appearing before House committee on Labour And Social Welfare. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

The Secretary-General Explained that since 2020/2021 had been agreed Treasury and SCR should allow KPA to pay the workers.

“We should be allowed to start negotiation for the 2022/2023 salary increment because 2020/2221 has already been agreed,” said Sang

However, following a heated argument among the members over whether SRC had powers to interfere with any salary increment of KPA workers it was decided that SCR be summoned to appear before the committee next week.

Wachira said the committee will not immediately rule on the way forward about CBA implementation until they hear from SRC next week.

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