, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 22 – Teachers have once again refused to call off their strike saying the government’s deal offering Sh13.5 billion to be paid out in three phases is ridiculous.
Through the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), which was holed up in a meeting for the better part of Saturday, the teachers vowed to stay away from classes until the government placed a better deal on the negotiating table.
KNUT chairman Wilson Sossion said teachers would not budge from their position even as their industrial action entered the fourth week.
“After lengthy deliberations we have taken a vote and we have resolved that the teachers’ strike continues. Will as many as of this opinion say aye? Will as many as of a contrary opinion say nay? The ayes have it,” he declared.
He further dared the government to sack all striking teachers and employ 100,000 new teachers together with the retirees, as planned, saying the strategy would fail.
Sossion noted that the government had not even paid the retired teachers and there was therefore no incentive for them to go back to teaching.
“And we are telling government to sack us now and recruit the 100,000. We must be treated with respect. The teachers who are retired and purported to be on standby to come back to teach have not been paid their pension so they will also join us,” he argued.
KNUT Acting Secretary General Xavier Nyamu added that the government should take the matter seriously and address it.
He explained that the government’s deal lacked commitment saying it must first establish a committee that will be charged with negotiating teachers’ perks in the future.
“We cannot accept what the government is giving us until we have that committee in place. Once beaten twice shy; if you have been bitten by a snake, you run away when you see a rope,” he said.
He also rubbished the government’s position indicating that the country’s tax man had not collected enough revenue to sustain the teachers’ demands.
Nyamu noted that the government had promised to make the teachers’ payments in two phases if the revenue collection base improved.
“We cannot accept what the government is giving us until we have that committee in place. Once beaten twice shy; if you have been bitten by a snake, you run away when you see a rope” – Nyamu.
“It is the work of government to initiate ways and means that ensure there is enough revenue so that teachers are paid at once. Teachers do not collect funds so we reject that position,” he argued.
The first tranche of the payments, Sh6 billion, was to be paid out in October this year, while the second phase amounting Sh5 billion would be paid out in January next year and the final pay worth Sh2.5 billion in June next year.
Session however dismissed the pay structure saying it would not amount to much for the 200,000 plus teachers.
“According to this system the lowest paid teacher will not get anything while the highest paid teacher will get Sh5,000 in the first instalment. Yet the Permanent Secretaries are getting a raise of domestic allowance from Sh15,000 to Sh50,000,” he noted.
The government’s deal had also resolved to upgrade teachers in the P2 level to P1. P2 teachers take home Sh13,000 per month while P1 teachers take Sh19,000.
“They can also take away our September and October salaries. In any case we have been earning ‘simsim’ so there is no impact. We don’t even feel it in the pocket,” charged Sossion.
The union further refuted claims made by some Members of Parliament, on Wednesday, indicating that the industrial action was politically motivated.