School workers score big in salaries suit


The Employment and Labour Relations Court has ordered Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to ensure that salaries of non-teaching staff in primary schools are harmonised with those of other civil servants.

The decision by Labour Court judge Byram Ongaya in a case in which 33 non-teaching staff sued the Nyeri Primary School Board of Management is a major win as the court also declared that those employed by the board were also public officers.

“The court finds that institutions established by the national government to undertake such functions are clearly part of public services and they include public primary schools such as the one managed by the respondent,” the judge ruled.

The 33 employees are also to share Sh9.6 million, which they had asked the court to award them as a result of the school’s failure to give them a pay rise since 2011.

In order to stop similar claims from other employees in primary schools across the country, the judge ordered that Dr Matiang’i should ensure that the Basic Education Act 2013, which ensures that salaries are harmonised, was fully implemented.

Public office

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“The court finds that the persons employed by the respondent (board of management) clearly hold a public office and are public officers within the constitutional definition of public service; the court holds that such employees are clearly in the service of the Government department responsible for the vested constitutional functions and in this case, the Ministry of Education.”

The judge was told that that the Ministry of State for Public Service, through a circular dated June 25, 2012, ordered the re-alignment of salary structures for public servants effective July 1 of the same year.

The group led by Danson Maina said the Nyeri Primary School board implemented the circular only partially.

In the suit, they claimed commuter allowances, annual leave allowances and salary arrears from the time the circular became effective were not paid.

The argument held by the Government was that the circular referred to was meant for civil servants. But the court found that there was no evidence that the Government had parallel systems placing its employees in different job groups.

“In any event, the court has considered that the circulars did not specifically exclude the claimants. The court finds that the persons employed by the Board of Management are part of the public service paid out of funds provided by Parliament within the framework of free basic education,” ruled the judge.

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