The government has announced a plan to increase salaries for civil servants in the next 100 days.
Public Service, Affirmative Action and Gender Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa said a technical committee will be formed to review and make recommendations of the appropriate pay rise.
“Civil servants are a demoralised lot and we don’t want to see them suffering. They are unable to cope with the high cost of living occasioned by runaway inflation. As Kenya Kwanza Government, we want to revamp their morale by increasing their salaries as soon as possible,” said Ms Jumwa.
“I am a leader and a mother too. I know a majority of the public servants are grappling to pay school fees for their children, pay rent and fend for their families. It’s a sad state of affairs but I have come to solve the problem so that they can live a dignified life.”
The Cabinet secretary said if public servants are well remunerated, there will be no corruption cases.
There are at least 923,000 public servants in the country whose wage bill stands at more than Sh890 billion annually.
The National Treasury has been struggling to raise funds to cater for the bloated wage bill that consumes more than a half of the budget, hampering completion of development projects.
Her pledge comes at a time the IMF is pushing government for job cuts and a reduction in the wage bill.
But Jumwa maintained the country’s wage bill is manageable and that there is money to cater for the salary increment.
“We have 900,000 people working for 50 million Kenyans. Who says we have a bloated wage bill? The country has enough money to give the public servants a pay rise and carry on with its development agenda,” she said after conducting an inspection tour of Nairobi Huduma Centre.
The government last reviewed the minimum wage for civil servants in May 2018 at the rate of five per cent.
This latest move is expected to renew teachers efforts to revise the non monetary Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) it signed with Teachers Service Commission (TSC).
Teachers through their union Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) are demanding a 60 per cent salary increase, which they want implemented immediately.
Knut secretary general Collins Oyuu said the high cost of living has pushed for a rethink of teachers’ salaries.
“We have commenced a structured negotiation with the employer to see to it that a 60 per cent salary rise is awarded to teachers,” Oyuu said in July.
He called for a review of the 2021-2025 collective bargaining agreement, which was signed with non-monetary benefits.
“The human resource benefits are both to the teacher, the employer, and everyone in this profession,” Oyuu said.
The 2021-25 CBA had non-monetary benefits including extended paid maternity leave for female teachers and introduced paternity leave for male teachers.
However, Oyuu said it’s high time the Salaries and Remuneration Commission considers increasing teachers salaries.
“The inflation rate at the moment does not allow us to continue having boardroom meetings with our employer. The economic times are extremely harsh,” he said.
Oyuu said these demands formed part of the discussions held between TSC and Knut from July 7 to July 9.
The official promised that the union and TSC have a formidable relationship going forward but said this will not hinder the union from fighting for teachers’ rights.
“This time round we have put it squarely and barely that teachers have an irreducible minimum demand. Teachers want money and not stories,” he said.
The Deputy President, Rigathi Gachagua, made some promises that Dr Ruto’s government is committed to improve teachers salaries.
Gachagua also said that the Kenya Kwanza government will have a forum with teachers to air their views and proposals regarding issues affecting them.
“Teachers salaries and allowance is an issue for discussion. We must all agree that the cost of living has gone very high and teachers are not exempted from the high prices of food and other commodities. And in response the government must take care of its teachers and way is to listen to them and see the cost of living can be addressed,” said Gachagua in August.