Teachers, lecturers and civil servants reject two-year salary Review freeze

Early Childhood Development Education teachers can breathe a sigh of relief after officials dismissed a new salary structure that purportedly reduced their earnings.

Salaries and Remuneration Commission chair Lyn Mengich and her Council of Governors Education Committee counterpart Eric Mutai said the supposed salary structure was misleading and erroneous.

“We came to learn about the new salary structure on the media. It is not based on any fact and the SRC structure of 2021 is the one that prevails. No ECDE teacher will have their salary reduced to Sh7,000,” Mengich assured.

Mutai, who is also the Kericho governor affirmed that the only structure they have is one that was issued in 2021.

“I do not know where this new structure came from. No governor will implement the fake letter,” he said.

He said governors take ECDE teachers seriously and honour what they do in the counties.

“We cannot review salaries of ECDE teachers downwards. It has never happened anywhere in the world and Kenya will not be the first to do it,” he said.

Mengich and Mutai had appeared before the Senate Education Committee to shed light on the structure that had elicited a storm among education stakeholders.

Approximately 43,874 ECDE teachers are currently employed by county governments.

Committee chair Joe Nyutu said his team invited the two to clarify the matter as it had raised tension among ECDE teachers.

“There were reports that ECDE teachers were going to earn Sh7,000 and we thought this was unacceptable,” he said.

Nyutu said his committee is also fighting to ensure all ECDE teachers are employed on a permanent and pensionable basis.

The report, which was widely circulated on social media, said the commission had recommended to CoG a new grading and salary structure targeting teachers employed by county governments.

In a circular purportedly issued by the SRC dated January 13, 2023, the commission directed county governments to implement the new grading and salary structures which proposes a pay cut of between Sh7,383 and Sh10,803.

According to the structure, an ECD teacher at the certificate level would have earned between Sh7,836 and Sh11,467 for job groups between F and L.

This would have been a massive drop from their current salary of between Sh16,890 and Sh20,800 for the same job groups.

Kenya County Government Workers Union had warned of a strike if the purported structure would have been implemented.

Internationally, ILO’s Convention 95 on Protection of Wages of 1949, the Employment Act Part IV on Protection of Wages and the 2010 Constitution Article 41 state that no one can arbitrarily reduce an employee’s wage without his/her consent.

On May 1, 2022, there was an increment of 12 per cent in the minimum wage in Kenya which rose to Sh15, 201 pay for workers in cities and about half of this figure for general workers in rural areas.

This minimum wage was deemed to affect general workers such as domestic workers, workers in the agriculture sectors, security guards, and construction workers among others who undertake manual labour in the course of their daily work.

Under Kenyan laws, when a firm is financially challenged, an employee’s pay cannot be reduced without consent or discussions between the employee and the employer.

This was witnessed in the country at the height of Covid-19 and in almost all countries of the world. 

An employment contract cannot be changed by one party without the consent of the other.

In Kenya, the law provides that if an employee is aggrieved by salary deductions, they can file a complaint with the Ministry of Labour or sue in a court of law within three years after the pay cut.

In case one is to oppose or resist a salary reduction, then an employer has the option of terminating the contract of employment by giving them their contractual notice and then offering a new contract on a reduced salary.

Mengich said the estimated annual expenditure in the full implementation of the scheme of service for ECDE teachers would be 12,910,143,487.

“Critically, the annual budget allocation for the Education function (which mostly combines with gender, youth, labour, ICT, and social services) is an estimated Sh10, 828,076,256. The cost of implementing the scheme of service by far exceeds the total budget allocation for the Education Ministry by Sh2,082, 067,231.80, a 16 per cent variance,” she added.

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