A section of Starehe Boys Centre (SBC) employees went on a go-slow Wednesday, temporarily disrupting operations at the school as they demanded better pay and improved working conditions.
The around 70 protesters, mainly comprising non-teaching staff, held a demonstration outside the school’s gate demanding action on their “long standing” grievances.
The aggrieved staff want adjustment of their pay, review of the school’s housing policy and an end to what they termed as favouritism and nepotism in job appointments.
Representatives from the Ministry of Education and the Sub-County director of education visited the institution and held closed-door meetings with the management seeking to end the crisis.
Starehe director Charles Masheti in a response to the Business Daily’s queries sought to downplay the staff unrest. “We did not get to a strike and the school is running well,” said Masheti in a text response.
Starehe, once the country’s premier high school, has been on a steady decline since the death of its founder and philanthropist Geoffrey Griffin. The workers claim there are glaring disparities in salaries where new employees get better pay –not befitting their qualifications –compared to long-serving staff.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) recommended a new pay structure last year, which teachers employed by the institution’s board said is yet to be implemented. The grievances are also detailed in a letter to Mr Masheti authored by the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA).
But in his response letter dated October 9 2017, Mr Masheti told the union that Starehe Boys Centre is a private institution only receiving partial support from the government and donors.
“…a defining characteristic of those who work in Starehe is sacrificial service. Right from its founders to all staff directly employed by Starehe it has always been recognised that the centre cannot afford to pay the salaries paid by other institutions or demanded by the market rates,” he said.
Alumni of the institution under the Old Starehean Society (OSS) expressed concern over Wednesday’s workers’ strike, noting that the matter is receiving urgent attention.
“The OSS is working with the management committee and the Centre Director to amicably resolve the situation. We have already been in touch with representatives of the concerned staff and the situation is now calm,” said Raymond Rono, the OSS chairperson.
In January, the centre, which is among top performing national schools, defied a government directive to admit day scholars saying it goes against the school’s system of operation.