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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 14 December 2014

UNION, KEMRI IN ANOTHER SALARY DISPUTE DUEL

Salary adjustment case filed in the Industrial Court in Nairobi by the Union of Kenya National Research and Allied Institutes Staff of Kenya on behalf of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (staff has finally ended in favour of the staff.
In a ruling delivered by Justice Njagi Marete on case filed by Unrisk secretary general Zachary Achacha, the ruling reads in part: “I therefore find in favour of the claimant union and order that this court adopts and enforces the agreement of the parties in the various items as hereunder; leave allowance, commuter allowance, medical risk allowance, hardship allowance, general wage increase, heads of units allowance and basic salary wages.
In the ruling, the effective date of the collective bargaining agreement was set for  July 1  2013 and shall be in force for four years and shall expire on June 30 2017 and that Unrisk be allowed  and authorised to recruit its union membership from staff cadres and categories MR 1 to MR 15.
In the CBA signed by Unrisk secretary general Zachary Achacha, Solomon Mpoke for Kemri and witnessed by George Ambuche of FKE, Article 40 of the agreement under basic salaries and wages, the unionisable staff were awarded a 17pc salary increment.
Article 41 of the agreement reads: “The institute will operationalise the payment of new salaries in light of the new re-categorisation of the institute from PC 4B-4A with effect from July 1 2014 in the alternative in line with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission”.  In Article 45, heads of units will be entitled to a monthly telephone, responsibility and entertainment allowances.
On transfer allowance, employees transferred from one duty station to another will qualify for transfer allowance at the rate equivalent to one month’s basic salary. 
The leave allowance of the staff has also been adjusted with the minimum now being Sh5,000 up from Sh4,000 while the maximum will be Sh11,000 up from Sh10,000. The monthly commuter allowances have also been adjusted with the least now getting Sh3,500 up from Sh2,000 and the highest now getting Sh16,500 up from Sh16,000.
The ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services principal secretary Karoli Ooko in a letter dated September 26 2014 confirmed having received for registration an agreement signed on September 2014 by Unrisk and Kemri.
“The ministry has analysed the agreements with regard to their conformity with the wages guidelines issued on August 29 1973 and the subsequent amendments especially the latest of November 23 2005. On the basis of the analysis, I have found no reason to object to the registration of the agreement. I therefore forward it to you for further action,” the report said.
Following the directive, the agreement was registered on October 17 2014 by Industrial Court Judge Justice JN Abuodha. The certificate reads: “This is to inform you that the court having duly considered the CBA entered into by you dated August 25 2014 has this day accepted the said CBA for registration in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Labour Relations Act No 14 of 2007.
A letter dated August 8 2014 signed by Commissioner Nicodemus Odongo of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and addressed to Kemri director Solomon Mpoke approved a request for approval of realignment of salary structure for Kemri staff.
The letter reads: “The Salaries and Remuneration Commission during its 75th commission meeting held on July 21 2014 deliberated on your request approved and hereby advises that Kemri adopts the remuneration structure as shown”. 
In the new approved rates, the lowest paid staff will take home a basic salary of Sh14,944 while the highest paid will take home Sh400,000. Unrisk’s Achacha has vowed to continue fighting for the rights of the Kemri staff and other union members. Unrisk also represents staff from Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, Kenya Trypanomiasis Research Institute, Kenya Forestry Research Institute and Kenya Sugar Research Foundation. Staff represented by UNRISK are known to have benefited a lot under the wise leadership of Achacha whom they describe as fearless unionist when it comes to fighting for the rights of UNRISK members. They say members have gained in terms of general wage increment, termination of employment, non-practice allowance, insurance against accidents and periodical medical check up.
Unlike many trade unions which rely heavily on hiring lawyers to argue their cases at the Industrial Court, Achacha in most cases makes personal appearance in court as he understands union law and worker’s rights that he rarely hires lawyers to represent union but interestingly, he has always won court battles without legal representation.