About 1,000 police officers are planning to sue the National Police Service and its commission in protest over the slashing of their November salaries.
The officers, who have been earning Group J “Inspector of Police” salaries under the designation “Graduate Constables” were shocked to receive group F salaries which are equivalent to the salary of police constables.
Consequently, majority of the officers who had committed parts of their salaries to servicing loans and other statutory deductions are unable to meet their monthly basic requirements of rent, food and upkeep as their payslips are reading salaries as low as Sh53, Sh18, up to negative 7000.
Payslips seen by the Nation from officers across the country show that at Job Group J, the officers were earning basic salaries of Sh59,000 but they have now received Sh32,000. Their house allowance has gone down to Sh9,000 from Sh24,000, and risk (police/prison) allowance from Sh11,000 to Sh9,000.
The salary downgrade affects officers from all formations, including the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), with fears that many of them could engage in crime to supplement their income.
The officers said the move could affect their morale and eagerness to tackle dangerous assignments when the region has been facing terror threats.
One of the officers said he had attended various promotion interviews but none had been fruitful despite him having great skills.
“Promotions are always skewed … The salary reversal will affect the operations of the National Police Service because we cannot sustain ourselves, and loan guarantors will suffer. There is a terror threat in the country and the last thing expected from the commission is to cause disharmony amongst the officers,” reads the memorandum.
The officers lamented that the recent employment of 300 officer cadets was unfair, as it locked out thousands of police graduates who have been waiting for promotions over the years.
“Is it that they made the deductions to pay the new cadets?” wondered an officer who spoke to Nation on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised.
One of the affected officers said the changes were endorsed last Tuesday when the committee met, and effected on Friday when the National Police Service payroll was closed.
Dozens of the demoted officers have been making frantic efforts to reach Deputy President William Ruto, opposition leader Raila Odinga and other presidential hopefuls, seeking their intervention.
They have written a nine-point memorandum saying the move will demoralise the officers, many of whom are servicing loans and other financial obligations.
The NPS has been attempting to implement a March 7, 2018 directive by then-NPS Commission (NPSC) chairman Johnston Kavuludi, seeking to demote officers who gained university degrees while working as constables.
Mr Kavuludi said some officers were entered into the payroll without the authorisation of the inspector general and approval of the NPSC.
However, around the same time, graduate constables moved to court to protest the move and won. They then obtained a consent order blocking the salary reduction implementation at the Nairobi Employment and Labour Relations Court on November 14, 2018.
Justice Byram Ongaya ruled that failure by NPSC to automatically promote graduate constables to the rank of inspector amounts to denial, violation, infringement and threat to their fundamental rights and freedoms.
Central Organisation of Trade Union (Cotu) legal officer Charles Omanga, who is representing the officers, said the consent order has never been appealed and does not affect this lot of graduate constables.
“We shall, therefore, be moving to court, seeking to have NPSC compelled to reinstate the officers, job groups and deducted salaries, if not, they be committed to civil jail for being in contempt of a court order,” said the lawyer.
He added that the formation of a police union has been long pending at the Court of Appeal as the government was unwilling to make the officers unionisable employees.
The petitioners insist that a 1995 directive by then-permanent secretary, Directorate of Personnel, instructing that any police constable who attains a degree should be promoted to a police inspector, is still in force.
However, the commission claims that it developed NPS career progression guidelines for uniformed personnel in 2016 upon its inception, and thus the PS’ letter had ceased having legal effect.
The NPSC was yet to issue a response by the time of going to press.