A ministerial team is evaluating the salary proposals at the centre of a dispute between the Kenya Ports Authority and its middle level managers that led the supervisors to boycott work this week.
Transport minister Amos Kimunya said the inter-ministerial committee had been set up to explore how the salary scales of the Kenya Ports Authority would be harmonised with those of other parastatals.
“We are in an electioneering period and we don’t want to make a populist decision that might be overturned by the next government,” Mr Kimunya said. “I appeal to the workers to be patient.”
The minister was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of a strategic plan by the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) at the Nyali International Beach Hotel.
He said that all salaries for workers in government agencies would be reviewed to reflect the current living standards.
He said the KPA workers should have negotiated for their pay without going on strike.
“As a manager, somebody needs to show restraint and responsibility. What they did is not a good example to the workers they supervise,” said the minister.
The managers downed tools on Monday demanding a salary increment. Their starting salary of Sh62,000, they said, was Sh15,000 less than that of some workers who they supervise.
“We want everybody to be paid according to his job group. Some of our juniors earn more than Sh75,000,” said George Olango, the interim secretary-general of the unregistered Kenya Ports Management Workers’ Union.
On Monday KPA managing director Gichiri Ndua promised to address their grievances. But Wednesday, Mr Olango said they would resume the strike after the management reneged on the agreement.
“He has not yet honoured the pledge and we intend to go on with the strike,” he said.
“It is only at KPA where leave allowances only include the spouse while in other parastatals children are included,” said Mr Olango.
Stakeholders have warned the persistent wrangles might compromise delivery of service, leading to loss of business.
“Mombasa port does not only serve Kenya and any labour unrest arising there should be looked into with the seriousness it deserves. Administrative issues should not be allowed to antagonise business,” said Dock Workers Union secretary-general Simon Sang.