Opinion and Analysis
Salaries commission needs to settle pay disputes
Posted Sunday, September 30 2012 at 16:14
The teachers are still celebrating after their successful bid for higher salaries. Next on the queue are the doctors and the queue could be endless if the current trend is anything to go by.
The result of the rampant agitation for increased salaries is a ballooning wage bill that could easily dent the government’s budget.
The government therefore should be on high alert to avoid repeating the same mistake that was witnessed in the late 1990s and early 2000, when there were massive retrenchments. The recent retrenchments at Kenya Airways should be a pointer to what happens when wage bill is not properly managed.
The question that lingers in the minds of many Kenyans is: What is the role of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission in controlling the wage bill? The commission that was created under article 230 of Constitution is mandated to set and regularly review the remuneration and benefits of all State employees.
This commission should therefore be at the forefront in settling the salaries disputes in the public sector. Its conspicuous absence from the salary negotiation process is a tell-tale sign that all is not well in our journey to fully implement the Constitution. The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution is being overtaken by events, and the road ahead seems bumpy.
Section 230 (5) of the Constitution states that the commission shall take into account the need to ensure that the total public compensation bill is fiscally sustainable.
Though the right to decent living standards through the increase of salaries is a constitutional right, the only concern is that unmanaged wage bill increment could reach uncontrollable levels and it would only be a matter of time before the country is indebted both internally and externally to levels hitherto witnessed hence destabilising the country. This is where the salaries commission should step in with speed and set guidelines.
Pay for performance should be at the forefront of the commission’s agenda, and all jobs should be thoroughly evaluated. Before salary increments are implemented the commission should assess the viability and sustainability based on the Country’s Gross Domestic product and the same should be communicated to the Government of the day.
Mr Kibet is a certified public accountant