Parliament has received the names of 13 nominees for the Salaries and Remuneration Commission – Sarah Serem (Chair), Peter Oloo Aringo (to represent the Parliamentary Service Commission), Daniel Ogutu (Public Service), Celestine Kiuluku (Judicial Service), Sarah Kinyua (Teachers Service Commission), Samuel Kirubi (Defence Council), Jason Namasake (Senate), Isaiah Kubai (COTU), Jacqueline Mugo (FKE), Anne Owuor (APSEA), Joseph Kinyua, Titus Ndambuki, Wanjuki Muchemi. If the vetting of the nominees goes smoothly the country may have a Salaries and Remuneration Commission by next week or the week after.
Not a moment too soon in light of the number of strikes among public sector employees over the last few months i.e.
- The nation-wide teachers’ strike over salary and understaffing. The strike paralysed learning institutions across the country. Though the strike was eventually called of the issues off recruitment of new teachers and teachers’ salaries are yet to be fully resolved.
- The strike of over 7,000 university lecturers over low salaries and the fact that their salaries have not been increased for the last three years.
- The doctors strike, in which doctors in public hospitals demanded a 400% salary increase.
Under the previous dispensation the determination of the salaries of state officers was highly fragmented. The Parliamentary Service Commission reviewed and made recommendations on salaries and allowances of the members of the National Assembly. Parliamentarians effectively determined their own salaries, and that of senior constitutional officials. The Public Service Commission had oversight over the salaries of most other state officers. Under this arrangement the disparate salaries between members of parliament, senior constitutional officers and other public officers i.e. doctors, teachers and lecturers is hardly surprising. Nor is it surprising that some of the most important public sector employees i.e. doctors and teachers received the short end of the stick when it came to salaries and salary reviews.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission, established by Article 230 of the constitution, is mandated to set and review the remuneration of all state officers. It is also empowered to advise the national and county governments on remuneration and benefits of all other public officers. The power that the National Assembly currently wields with regard to the determination of the remuneration and salaries of the President, MPs and other senior constitutional officers is now vested in the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. Also important is the fact that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s make up is representative of the cross section of public employees not just the national assembly. These factors will hopefully contribute to more representative, egalitarian, and transparent salary determination process for all state officers.