Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo in a statement said that the salary demands by Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) alone amount to Sh460 billion annually against an allocation of Sh115 billion.
He said that the government has all along been willing to negotiate with the teachers but has blamed KNUT for maintaining its hard stance on full implementation of the 1997 Agreement.
“These demands for salaries and allowances amount to Sh500 billion, which is well over 50 percent of the total National budget. This is unsustainable,” Kilonzo said on Saturday evening.
Mutula said that KNUT has refused to recognize Legal Notice No. 16 of 2003 that amended some clauses in Legal Notice No. 534 of 1997.
Legal Notice No 16 of 2003 by implication means that teachers’ allowances as was agreed under the Legal Notice 534 were to be pegged on job groups and workstations, as opposed to the initial arrangement where teachers drew allowances based on their salaries.
He said that the union has also disregarded other subsequent agreements including Policy circular No. 7 of 2001 from the Ministry of State for Public Service which harmonised house allowances for civil servants including teachers.
“The bone of contention has been the refusal of the union to recognize Legal Notice No. 16 of 2003 that amended some clauses in Legal Notice No. 534 of 1997,” said the minister.
Mutula has urged to teachers to go back to work as they are already in breach of Article 53 (2) of the Constitution which protects the child’s best interests.
“With utmost respect to the teachers and cognisant of their place in society as role models and opinion leaders, the Government urges the teachers to obey the court orders and resume work immediately, even as parties engage in conciliation efforts as directed by the court,” he pleaded.
Teachers have been out of class for the past one week and are likely to stay out as there has not been any agreement to end the stalemate.
On Friday the Industrial court ruled that the strike called by the teachers was unprotected having failed to comply with the requirements of Section 76 of the Labour Relations Act.
Justice Maureen Onyango extended orders restraining teachers unions and their embers from taking part in, calling, instigating or inciting others to take part in an unprotected strike until the final determination of the dispute.
She ordered that teachers report back to work immediately and that no protection will be extended to any employee who continues to take part in the unprotected strike after last Friday.
Justice Onyango ordered that should parties fail to agree on the issues in dispute, after conciliation, any of the parties is free to move to the court to hear the parties on the substantive issues in dispute for final determination.
Mediation efforts in the past week have all ended fruitless, the last being on Friday in meeting at the Teachers Service Commission.