May 12, 2022

CBC rejects agreement to increase wages for port workers, calls on parties to renegotiate

Congested containers at Mombasa port [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

The Wages and Compensation Commission (SRC) rejected a 10 percent base wage hike for unionized workers at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and instead called on the parties to continue negotiations.

A circular issued by KPA on July 12 to more than 4,400 employees indicates that renegotiation talks will be conducted by the national treasury.

The SRC says the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) signed between KPA and the Dock Workers Union (DWU) on April 20 only covers two years instead of four as required.

The commission also questioned KPA’s high payroll, saying its cash flow could not support the increase in employee wages every two years.

Meanwhile, DWU announced yesterday that it will meet with Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani next week to seek his clearance for the implementation of the ABC. Union Secretary General Simon Sang said he would lead a delegation to Yatani to seek clarification on stalled ABC 2020/2021 and ask him to speed it up.

Sang said the union was ready to negotiate an additional collective agreement to cover 2022/2023, as recommended by the SRC. He criticized the KPA leadership for not sharing correspondence between it and the CBC since May over the stalled approval of the signed collective agreement.

In the KPA circular, Director General of Human Resources and Administration Daniel Ogutu said management held a meeting with the SRC on May 17, but was subsequently advised to seek further approval from the National Treasury to conclude the four-year cycle of the ABC for 2020/2023.

Ogutu said upon signing the agreement that KPA management and the union were guided by a memorandum of understanding signed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, Cotu and the Kenya Employers’ Federation.

“The signing of the agreement was based on section 3 (c) (iii) of the MoU, which guided the review of some of the elements of the existing ACAs. It is in this context that the two-year collective agreement was signed and submitted to the SRC for approval in order to facilitate registration with the labor and employment tribunal, ”he said.

A copy of the circular has been made available to KPA’s new acting chief executive, John Mwangemi, who took office this month.

There is simmering tension among workers over the stalled ABC. This is the first time in many years at KPA that a signed CBA has not been implemented for almost 20 months. The salary increase is supposed to be backdated to January 1, 2020.

Mwangemi also faced a dispute over a 30 percent cap on overtime pay that caused friction between KPA management and the union.

For more than a year, management has limited the payment of overtime pay for each worker to 30 percent of monthly wages, prompting protests.

In addition to the 2022/2023 collective agreement, KPA management and the union are also expected to negotiate other benefits such as medical, housing and transportation allowances for the four-year period.

In the circular, Ogutu assured union members that KPA was in consultation with the National Treasury to get the CBA approved.

“The management of the Kenya Ports Authority wishes to underscore its commitment to industrial peace and the well-being of the workforce. This therefore involves assuring all unionized staff that KPA management is in consultation with the National Treasury for the necessary approval, in accordance with SRC guidelines. ”