Counties

SRC appeal in county clerks pay row flops

LYN

SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich gestures during a press briefing on May 15, 2019. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Summary

  • The Court of Appeal has blocked the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) from challenging a High Court order that thwarted its attempt to reduce monthly pay for county assembly clerks from Sh350,000 to Sh259,000.
  • The three-judge bench struck out a notice of appeal filed by the SRC after finding that it was not interested in prosecuting the case following the conduct of its advocates.

The Court of Appeal has blocked the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) from challenging a High Court order that thwarted its attempt to reduce monthly pay for county assembly clerks from Sh350,000 to Sh259,000.

The three-judge bench struck out a notice of appeal filed by the SRC after finding that it was not interested in prosecuting the case following the conduct of its advocates.

The court said the advocates did not move the case beyond the filling of the notice of appeal, in which they demonstrated intention to challenge the Employment and Labour Relations Court judgment that stopped the county assembly clerks’ salary cut in June 2018.

The SRC wanted to challenge the order that permanently stopped the implementation of the job evaluation report for the public sector concerning the clerks of the county assemblies.

According to the rules of the Court of Appeal, the commission was supposed to lodge the main appeal within 60 days after filing the notice.

But its advocates neither did so nor was there proof that they requested for typed proceedings from the trial court. Besides, they did not attach a certificate of delay to justify the delay in lodging the main appeal.

The bench composed of Justices Martha Koome, Mohammed Warsame and Patrick Kiage said the commission’s decision to file the notice of appeal was merely to deny the clerks the fruits of their judgment.

In the judgment passed by Justice Nzioki wa Makau, the Labour Court declared that the downgrading and loss of remuneration of the clerks was unlawful. The judge also noted that the clerks are accounting officers and CEOs of their respective county assemblies.

He declared that the decision of the SRC to classify the clerks at Class D while other accounting officers and CEOs are placed at E was discriminatory.

The clerks in their petition told the court that the job evaluation by the SRC reduced them to subordinate positions not commensurate with their roles.

Justice Makau ruled that the county structure is a microcosm of the national government.

“The county assembly in character mirror the national assembly. The clerk of the county assembly is not middle-level management but in the band of senior specialists and top executives. They fit in the band E of the Patterson Banding and not D. As CEOs of the assembly they cannot be deemed to be in a subordinate position,” said the judge.

The SRC had defended its decision to lower the clerks’ job group and pay, saying it was exercising its constitutional mandate, which could not be usurped by anyone.

But the court stated that constitutional bodies such as the SRC are bound to undertake their duties following the dictates of the Constitution and key of which is fairness and application of the law.