More than 5,000 port workers are set to get a 10 percent salary increase after a National Assembly panel directed that their collective bargaining agreement with the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) be implemented.
The Labour and Social Welfare Committee recommended that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission approve the Dock Workers Union’s (DWU) two-year CBA.
DWU secretary-general Simon Sang said that the move will see port workers earn more perks, including overtime. The union is set to register the CBA at the Industrial Court.
“KPA generates its own income. We don’t depend on government funding. We do not want to earn according to the national wages guidelines. Instead, we want to rely on global port salary guidelines, because we are the interface between Kenya and the world. Overtime is a worker’s right,” Mr Sang said.
He said his recent appointment to the Maritime Wages Council will boost port workers' agitation for better salaries.
“It will be the entry point to bring changes and agitate for our salaries to match global standards. We thank Parliament for issuing the directive that will see dockworkers earn more. We have been waiting eagerly for this directive,” he said.
Mr Sang said the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) had stopped their salary raise but Parliament objected that there is no law guiding the agency to stop implementation of their CBA.
Hundreds of dockworkers celebrated the directive outside the Mombasa port on Friday.
The union wants KPA to fast-track the 2022/2023 CBA. He accused human resources officials of demoralising and demotivating port workers.
DWU national treasurer Nana Mote lauded Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir for standing with the workers.
Mr Nassir had petitioned Parliament to resolve the stalemate.
“SRC should now approve our letters immediately. We want our salaries and arrears, but let us be patient. We want our rights, we have been working extremely hard during this difficult pandemic period,” she said.
KPA was among institutions hit hard by the effects of Covid-19, with some of its workers contracting the virus.
Last week, the parliamentary committee recommended that SRC reconsider its decision and approve the two-year CBA and unlock the stalemate on the payment of the port workers’ dues negotiated for the 2021/2022 financial year.
In August, the committee, led by its chairperson Wachira Kabinga (Mwea), met officials from SRC and DWU in Mombasa to look into delays in adopting the port workers’ CBA.
DWU had accused the salaries agency of delaying registration of the CBA. Its officials asked the Mvita MP to seek Parliament’s intervention to resolve the stalemate.
“We thank Mr Nassir for pushing this agenda for us. We want him to be our patron to push for the devolving of port management,” Mr Sang said.
The union and KPA want the raise to be effected in two years - six percent in the first year and 4 percent the next.
However, SRC withheld approval of the agreement, arguing that the initial agreement as per the commission’s advice, was to be effected in four years at a standard rate of 2.5 percent annually.
The SRC told the committee that the two-year deal that the KPA and the Federation of Kenyan Employers presented to the agency was an afterthought.
The SRC also argued that it violated the provisions of articles 230 (4) (b) and 259 (11) of the Constitution that outlines the agency’s advisory role on CBAs.