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Public servants to be put on three-year contracts from July

Public Service Commission chairman Stephen Kirogo delivers the keynote address at 6th Annual HR Congress at Pride Inn Paradise Resort in Shanzu, Mombasa County, on May 22, 2019. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

In Summary

  • The plan immediately drew criticism from unions, which termed it punitive and retrogressive.
  • Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli opposed the move and urged MPs to block it.
  • SRC announced that the government spent Sh790 billion on the wage bill for the financial year 2018/19.

The government will hire civil servants on contract from July 1 as part of public service reforms that seek to boost productivity and trim the wage bill.

Those joining the civil service will get three-year contracts, renewable only on satisfactory performance, while serving staff will be subjected to performance contracting from the same date — a clear departure from the permanent and pensionable terms civil servants have enjoyed since independence.


Announcing the policy change, Public Service Commission (PSC) chairman Stephen Kirogo Tuesday said the move will compel public workers to put in more effort and raise productivity.

“Once people believe they’re permanent and pensionable, there’s little motivation to perform and they become comfortable. We want to disturb that comfort so that people are retained on performance,” Mr Kirogo said, adding: “…the public service is bloated, lethargic and unproductive.”

Further, he noted that “nothing short of a brutal approach” would work for the country.





But the plan instantly drew criticism from unions, which termed it punitive and retrogressive.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli opposed the move and urged MPs to block it. He threatened to challenge the policy in court.

Some years back, the government tried to introduce similar measures in the education sector, but was opposed by the teachers’ unions.

Mr Seth Panyako, the Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary-General also opposed the plan, saying: “We oppose and reject that attempt by PSC to frustrate and intimidate Kenyan workers.”

The PSC, he said, has no mandate to unilaterally develop far-reaching policies without public participation and parliamentary approval.

Speaking from Geneva, Switzerland, Mr Panyako said his union would challenge the decision in court.


“We have not been involved and, therefore, we oppose [the plan] from the outset. Every Kenyan has a right to social protection of which pension is one of the key pillars, hence to casualise employment in Kenya is to subject Kenyans to retirement in poverty. We certainly cannot allow this.”

On Tuesday, the leadership of Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education (Kuppet) were unavailable for comment as every indication shows their members may not be spared.

The PSC chairman defended the move, saying, it sought to enhance productivity and was consistent with international best practices in human resource management.

“At the core of this philosophy and strategy is the quest to reboot public service performance management systems to a level that will sustainably support service delivery effectiveness and productivity,” he said.

The shift from permanent and pensionable terms comes as the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) announced that the government spent Sh790 billion on the wage bill for the financial year 2018/19.

The wage bill has been a subject of discussion in government circles because it is rising steeply and threatens to crowd out cash for development and capital investments. The economy has stagnated and without new incremental revenues, the it is becoming unsustainable.

According to the PSC chairman, payment will be based on performance. “You work for reward and the reward will be for the work done,” Mr Kirogo said.

However, Mr Atwoli said: “The government is never casual and it cannot, therefore, convert permanent jobs to casual in the name of contracts.


“I hope and trust that MPs are going to oppose such a retrogressive idea… the government cannot be run by casuals. We will oppose the move!”

Kenya Union of Civil Servants (KUCS), Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) and Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) had not commented on the matter by the time we went to press Tuesday.

However, Mr Kirogo noted that the adoption of the contracting model calls for competitive compensation in the public service, “at a level that will attract, motivate, and retain top talent in the service.”

The introduction of performance related pay structure and career progression framework to replace the schemes of service is particularly a major policy shift in the human resources management.

This is because it introduces a rewards and sanctions regime for public service in which hard work and commitment to service will be rewarded while poor performance will be sanctioned.

“As proponent and advocates of a new citizen-centric public service culture, we should be deeply worried about creating a perception that some of us, from inside the service, are actually eating the entire cake leaving very little or nothing for service to the people,” the PSC chairman said.

Source: Daily Nation.

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