NAIROBI, September 8 – The Government on Monday dismissed a 21-day strike notice issued by the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) terming it illegal.,
Education Minister Prof Sam Ongeri said in issuing the strike notice the union ‘exceeded its mandate within the rule of law’
“Currently their membership is about three percent. The law allows the minister to enter into negotiations with a body that has over 51 percent membership and they (KUPPET) know the law,” he said.
Officials of KUPPET issued a 21-day strike notice on Sunday to protest the government’s failure to harmonise their salaries with those of other civil servants.
The Union’s Secretary General Njeru Kanyamba said that members would boycott work from September 26 unless the government showed commitment to resolve the dispute.
“At the expiry of the notice, except otherwise directed, the teachers will withdraw their services until the deal is sealed,” Kanyamba insisted.
The Education Minister however welcomed suggestions by the union, saying the government was committed to improving working conditions for teachers.
“My advice is that they should not generate issues that are out of context, let them join up with KNUT (Kenya National Union of Teachers) and discuss these issues extensively and constructively,” he advised.
Ongeri also revealed that Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and KNUT together with other education stakeholders were already engaging in talks and had met four times in a bid to resolve any existing disputes.
KUPPET represents teachers in secondary schools and those in government tertiary institutions.
According to the union more than 80,000 teachers in job groups J through R have been discriminated against despite their qualifications.
Officials claimed that the lowest ranked teacher in job group J earns Sh16, 535 which was about Sh4, 000 less than their counterparts in the civil service.
National and provincial school principals in job group N earn Sh44, 990 as opposed to civil servants in similar grade who earn Sh120, 217.
While addressing school heads in Mombasa recently, Prime Minister Raila Odinga raised concerns over the disparities and said that the government would look into the issues expeditiously.
The State has already appointed a committee to review teachers’ remuneration.
The last time teachers went on strike was in after talks between KNUT and the government collapsed.
At the moment, teachers are engaged in a war of words with the State over the signing of performance contracts like other government officials.