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KPA on the spot over ‘huge’ perks

More than 100 middle-level managers already in court over disparities in remuneration while supervisors threaten to stage a go-slow

Murimi Mutiga @murimimutiga

Senior Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) managers have been allegedly awarding themselves hefty allowances of Sh650,000 per month each, under the pretext of a salary harmonisation scheme.

The managers are accused of exploiting a Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) order for harmonisation of salaries of KPA staff to award themselves hefty perks which come on top of their huge salaries. 

The allowances are said to have led to a silent protest by middle level managers at the Marine Services division who claim they were illegally stripped of overtime, weekend and holiday allowances and left feeling “discriminated against and left out in the new allowances scheme approved by the KPA board”.

“We find this scheme discriminatory because we were left out. The senior managers gave themselves hefty allowances and those for unionisable employees were not touched,” said the managers who sought anonymity for fear of being victimised. 

They claim that disparities in remuneration of staff at KPA are partly to blame for the inefficiencies that have been synonymous with port of Mombasa.

“You cannot expect a demoralised employee to produce high results. You cannot give allowances to one group of staff and leave out others who were also working in the same shift. They pay the senior manager and the junior staff but leave out the supervisor,” they said. According to documents seen by People Daily, each of the top managers is given Sh300,000 as Berth Productivity Incentive (BPI) and Sh350,000 as Pilotage and Vessel Movement Allowances.

On top of this, the managers also earn other normal allowances like house, fuel and telephone allowances. In total, the lowest earning senior manager takes home about Sh700,000. Currently, a senior manager receive a salary of about Sh300,000 inclusive of  normal allowances like housing, security, telephone and housing.

Added to the Sh300,000 Berth Productivity Incentive (BPI) and Sh350,000 as Pilotage and Vessel Movement Allowances, each take home approximately Sh1 million every month. The middle level managers earn a salary of between Sh100,000 and Sh150,000 per month. An operational extraneous allowance of approximately Sh70,000 is added to the salary.

The allowances were introduced in July last year, after SRC asked KPA to harmonise allowances paid to employees. SRC had opposed payment of allowances on extra time, weekend and during holiday. The allowances were to be replaced by one allowance called Operational Extraneous Allowance.

But 40 top managers decided to circumvent the system by introducing new perks for themselves, leaving out the supervisors. However, unionisable employees retained the extra hour, weekend and holiday allowances after the Dock Workers Union protested that the same had been negotiated for in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

“The top managers took advantage of SRC salary and allowances harmonisation directive to take away our allowances and craft a new scheme which gave them hefty payments,” said the managers. “The feedback they sent to SRC is that they had harmonised the allowances, but this was not true.

They just removed the perks from one cadre and left the others to continue enjoying the same,” they added. The 140 middle-level managers are already in court challenging the move to stop the allowances, terming them discriminatory.

Yesterday, a section of supervisors threatened to stage a go-slow that will paralyse work at the port.

“We must get back our perks or if they want to remove the allowances, they abolish the same for all employees. We cannot have top managers and lower cadre staff earn allowance for extra hour worked while supervisors who were in the same shift are left out. This is discrimination,” they said.

The managers have sued SRC and KPA, claiming that the decision was discriminatory as only middle-cadre staff in Marine services were affected while junior staff continues to draw the perks while senior managers got a windfall of two new hefty allowances.

They argued that the allowances had been agreed on in the year 2000 and they have been paid for the last 17 years. The middle-level managers said KPA owes them about Sh250 million in unpaid allowances. 

They have cited KPA for unfair labour practices which they say has demoralised supervisors leading to low productivity, increased accidents and equipment damage.

Marine services division which is one of the essential sections of the port of Mombasa is in charge of equipment worth about Sh10 billion. However, in a rejoinder, Acting KPA Managing director Daniel Manduku said KPA was willing to listen to the grievances raised by the supervises.

“By the time this scheme came into force I was not the MD but I know the issue. Tell them to come, we are ready for dialogue, this is the only way we can sort out this,” he said.

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