, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 6 – The stalemate between the Ministry of Labour and the two teachers’ unions persisted on day two of the crisis talks, with hopes of an agreement fast fading away.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) both failed to honour appointments for meetings scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Labour Minister John Munyes however downplayed their failure to show up, saying the parties had retreated to talk with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the Education Ministry.
“Following the two days of discussions with TSC, KNUT and KUPPET we have agreed that the parties be allowed for another one or two days to continue with bi-partite agreements that will lead to the unlocking of the stalemate,” said the minister.
Munyes insisted that the talks had not collapsed but succeeded in bringing together parties that have had serious differences prior to the strike.
“We are very happy that for the first time they are talking, at least we are moving in the right direction. Nothing has gone wrong because the parties have retreated to discuss their issues,” he added.
A meeting between KUPPET and the government was adjourned as Munyes sought time for consultations, but the two-hour break would later be the last the parties saw of each other.
Minister Munyes left the meeting to consult with Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Treasury, while KUPPET officials left to confer amongst themselves.
KNUT on the other hand decided to withdraw its participation in the ongoing negotiations, saying that they were headed nowhere.
KNUT Chairman Wilson Sossion told Capital News that they feel the ongoing talks were not headed towards resolving the issues that precipitated the strike, without the involvement of the Treasury.
Sossion, whose union was expected to meet Munyes on Thursday afternoon, insisted that they want to meet Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo instead.
“We cannot go to meetings that will actually extend the strike, we want to go to the minister who has the responsibility of addressing matters of teachers,” he said.
“We already have a collective bargaining agreement and I do not know what we are going to negotiate over; all we want is implementation,” stated Sossion.
KNUT is demanding salary increments and other allowances amounting to more than Sh43 billion, in a deal signed 15 years ago that was partly implemented.
According to the 1997 deal, teachers should by now have received various allowances including house allowances (50 percent of basic pay), medical allowance of 30 percent, and commuter allowance of 10 percent and 30 percent allowance for areas gazetted as hardship zones.
Meanwhile, a non-governmental organisation moved to court seeking to have the strike declared unconstitutional.
The Elimu Yetu Coalition Trust also wanted the High Court to issue an order directing TSC and the government to call off the strike and ensure all public schools have teachers to provide tuition to the students.
EYC made the urgent application complaining that the ongoing strike by teachers was going to adversely affect students in public schools who are set to sit for their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations later this year.
Through J S Khakula and Company Advocates, EYC pleaded with High Court judge Alfred Mabeya to certify the matter as urgent arguing that students in public schools will continue to suffer irreparable losses as their right to education is being violated.
Justice Mabeya certified the matter urgent and directed that it be heard on Tuesday next week.