SPEECH BY MS. ANNE WAIGURU, CABINET SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF DEVOLUTION AND PLANNING DURING OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE FEDERATION OF PUBLIC SERVICE TRADE UNIONS OF KENYA (PUSETU-K) HELD AT KICC, NAIROBI, ON 8TH APRIL, 2014
Chief Guest and Cabinet Secretary for Labour, Hon Kazungu Kambi;
Cabinet Secretary for Education, Prof Jacob Kaimenyi;
The Secretary General, PUSETU-K, Dr Charles Mukhawya;
Board Members of PUSETU -K;
Public servants Present;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am delighted by this opportunity to make a few remarks during the occasion of the official launch of the Federation of Public Service Trade Unions of Kenya (PUSETU-K). At the outset, and as the Cabinet Secretary responsible for the Public Service, let me take this opportunity to appreciate the important role that public servants play in the delivery of public services that are crucial to the creation of the enabling environment required for the achievement of our national development agenda.
The existence of a strong and recognized trade union is a pre-requisite to industrial peace, with the main objective being the promotion of the interest of its members and to the greater national interest. To achieve this aim, trade unions have a duty to maintain the viability of the undertaking by ensuring cooperation with management in measures to promote efficiency and good industrial relations.
Structured dialogue is necessary for constructive engagement and warm industrial relations. Lessons learnt indicate that dialogue will ensure that the relationship between the public service trade unions and the government remains positively proactive in a framework that fully caters for common interests. I am happy to note that whereas the relationship between trade unions and employers was in the past mainly adversarial, common interests and common purpose have resulted in the need to embrace partnership and dialogue.
This partnership involves adoption of a common approach in identifying and resolving issues of concern for the mutual benefit of all the parties, such as the ongoing rationalization programme of the public service.
For those who may not be fully appraised, the rationalization programme is a joint initiative of both national and county governments, premised on the obvious need to re-organize the public service following the establishment of a devolved structure of government, as well as the reduction of ministries from 44 to 18. The rationalization programme involves the review of current organizational structures, recommendation of appropriate organizational structures, reviewing staffing gaps and excesses and making recommendations on the optimal staffing levels based on the realigned structures; before making final recommendations for action by both national and county governments.
So far, we have enjoyed mutual engagement with the Union of Kenya Civil Servants, who have offered their input, and incorporated the needs of civil servants in the conceptualization and implementation of the rationalization programme. The union has grounded our efforts in appreciating the lessons learnt from previous exercises, while reinforcing the need to adopt a human face throughout the programme’s implementation. Going forward, we anticipate the reform programme to demand our taking of tough decisions, including the redeployment or re-designation of staff within the national government, and to county governments. In this endeavor, we will stand guided by the contributions of the unions, and will require your full support in view of our collective national interest to mould a 21st century public service.
On its part, the government shall continue to support the public service trade unions in strengthening their capacity to deliver on their mandate. The main reason behind this stand is that it is more beneficial for the government to engage with unions that are strong and knowledgeable in labour matters than unions that could be easily manipulated due to weakness in capacity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The current constitutional dispensation requires that all institutions be aligned to the provisions of Constitution of Kenya 2010. In this regard, I wish to remind public servants that it is now a constitutional right for Kenyans to access quality public services. Kenyans envision an effective and efficient public service that will provide world class service. A public service that is professional, dynamic and ethical – one that is motivated to perform in a manner that will dramatically improves public service delivery and transforms their lives.
In this regard, and as part of the Jubilee Government’s commitment to transform public service delivery, H.E. the President has initiated the Huduma Kenya “one stop shop” programme that brings together a variety of Government services under one roof. The solutions under the programme include the establishment of citizen service delivery centers across all counties to be known as Huduma Centres, an online e-huduma web portal for internet services, and a mobile m-huduma platform for mobile phone services.
Four (4) centers are operational at the General Post Office (GPO), City Square, Makadara and Machakos County Headquarters, where citizens receive commonly used services such as issuance of duplicate identity cards, drivers’ license renewals, business name searches, land rate payments etc through the one-stop shop solutions. We expect to establish an additional ten (10) centers this financial year, and complete the full roll out by the end of FY 2014/15
Of critical importance for the public service, is the Huduma programme’s core objective of securing quality in customer service, adherence to global standards for service delivery and increased efficiency and service delivery turnaround times. The focus therefore is “customer first”, guaranteeing a refreshing customer public service experience through demonstration of courtesy, guidance, commitment, assistance, and consideration. We intend to utilize the Huduma Kenya programme to pilot this transformative agenda for the public service, and thereafter cascade its implementation across all cadres in the public service.
In order to fulfill the above demands, there is need for a drastic transformation of the entire public service. We must transform the attitude of service providers, the systems and processes of service delivery and the values and ethics of the service itself. We will be calling upon our unions to support us in this regard, and to uphold these standards as critical to our engagement going forward.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It should be noted that the new constitutional and legal dispensation envisions that remuneration is pegged to performance and productivity.
Let me emphasize that performance and productivity in delivery of public services is a requirement that we shall continue to place at the centre stage. Whereas the government will continue to ensure that the terms and conditions of service are regularly reviewed, it is necessary that the union members appreciate their obligation to improve their performance in meeting the service delivery objectives of the government.
Enhanced measures are therefore essential to boost the performance of the individual staff in a manner that contributes to the achievement of public service institutional goals and strategic objectives. To better manage the performance of the individual staff, work to review the performance appraisal system is at an advanced stage. The ultimate objective is to ensure that individual performance is pegged and clearly aligned to institutional performance, and that excellent performance is rewarded while sanctioning poor performance. In this regard, the doctrine of human resource management in the public service seeks to transform from the current entitlement framework towards one that is performance based.
To support performance improvement, training and capacity building has remained one of the key building blocks as we move to ensure a modern and professional public service both at the national and county government levels. For this reason, public servants will need to embrace the culture of continuous learning to advance core skills and competencies that are demanded at the workplace.
Specifically, training and capacity building will be required in all matters related to industrial relations and specifically in regard to negotiations and conflict management for stronger public service unions and in support of warm industrial relations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me reaffirm that it is the government policy to attract and retain quality staff with requisite skills needed to drive the public service agenda. Indeed, the best intentions of the government as an employer are to offer competitive terms and conditions of service for its employees. However, this can only be realized within the limitations of the available resources and in consistency with competing demands of all sectors of the economy.
I wish to reiterate that it is incumbent upon all concerned parties to relentlessly pursue dialogue and restraint with the long term benefits in mind. It is equally important for all parties to be well informed on the social and economic realities in the country in order to avoid exaggerated expectations on the outcome of dialogue and consultative negotiations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Finally, let dialogue and consultations be broad enough to encompass priority issues that go beyond pay and benefits. Let us remain alive to the fact that as a partner in national development, the role and contribution of the labour movement will continue to widen beyond employment policy. This is in appreciation that economic growth and development of any nation depends on the key actions of all stakeholders. The positive impact will serve to maintain a stable and sustainable economic, social and political development of the Country. As Government we, shall therefore expect to deepen tri-partite dialogue as part of the national conversation addressing the major issues of the day.
I take this opportunity to congratulate you, to wish you Godspeed and every possible success.