Striking managers paralyse work at Mombasa port over pay row
Posted Tuesday, January 29 2013 at 11:34
Key operations at the Kenya Ports Authority were paralysed Monday after an estimated 1,500 middle-level managers and departmental heads downed their tools.
The managers were demanding that their salaries be raised to the level of those earned by their counterparts in other parastatals.
Kenya Ports Management Worker’s Union interim secretary-general George Olango said more than 1,850 registered managers and supervisors were demanding a salary increment.
“We have been pushing for our right since the budget for our increment was passed by the Board of Directors sometime in October,” Mr Olango said.
The managers who went on strike were from the operations, engineering, health and tagging departments.
The situation at the gateway to Kenya and landlocked states in the Great Lakes region could worsen today if the 3,500-member Dockworkers Union joins the strike in solidarity with the managers.
“We shall reach a major decision tomorrow (today). Our demands could include the forceful removal of the entire top management of the port in order to save the facility” said Dockworkers Union secretary- general Simon Sang.
Mr Sang said complaints by the striking managers had gone unheard for too long, causing tension and subsequent strikes in the past. He said the top port management should be overhauled to inject diversity in the running of the facility.
The striking managers, who have been agitating to form their own trade union, protested outside the KPA headquarters, demanding an audience with the managing director, Gichiri Ndua.
The strike affected the morning shift with the managers vowing to continue with the strike in subsequent shifts.
They accused the government of failing to honour its pledges to ratify their salaries in line with job groups in other government parastatals.
“We were promised that our salaries would be adjusted by December last year after the Board of Directors approved them in October to ensure we are remunerated as per our job groups,” said one manager.
The managers are asking for 100 per cent salary increase, but the KPA has offered them between 30 and 85 per cent.
In October, Mr Ndua said the 1,450 managers could face disciplinary action for holding informal meetings over their salary grievances. He assured the middle level managers then that their grievances were being considered.
Although journalists were barred from covering the strike, KPA Public Relations Officer Haji Masemo said the issue was being sorted out internally. “We hope to resolve it so that the operations can resume. There is no cause for alarm,” he said.