, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 26 – Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi has supported Labour Cabinet Secretary Kambi Kazungu’s assertion that the government is not bound by the 1997 teachers’ pay deal.
A day after Kazungu’s game-changing announcement, Kaimenyi said Legal Notice 16 of 2003 supersedes Legal Notice 534 of 1997 which the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) wants implemented in full.
Kambi had said the 2003 amendment gave the government more time within which to increase teachers’ allowances.
“It phased out the implementation. Some of them within 10 years… and I can assure you that from 2003 to date we have done what we should have done.”
Kaimenyi also supported Kazungu’s move to declare the teachers’ strike illegal and asked them to return to class as negotiations are carried out.
“How can we put anything on the table when there’s no one at the table? They need to come so we can also consult with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). The Constitution we have now is different from the one we had in 1997.”
The Education Secretary also told the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) to direct their demands for a responsibility allowance to the SRC.
“Some of the allowances are new. Nobody is disputing that responsibility allowance is important but we are saying they must negotiate within the legal framework of the existing laws,” he said.
But KUPPET Chairman Milemba Omboko is adamant that they will not return to work without the responsibility allowance.
“Yes we are willing to negotiate but a responsibility allowance is not one of the things we are willing to walk away from the negotiating table without.”
Whatever the teachers’ demands, Kaimenyi maintained that the purchase of laptops for school children in the 2013/2014 financial year will not be reconsidered as Sh3.9 billion had already been set aside for the hiring of more teachers.
“As a nation we have priorities, and we cannot have one priority. We have several priorities. One of them is the laptops project. The other one is of course the recruitment of teachers which we have done. Why laptops as a priority? Because we want to invest in the future of our children,” he said.
KNUT Chairman Wilson Sossion however maintains that it is Legal Notice 534 of 1997 they recognise, whatever Kazungu or Kambi might say, and cautions that they will not relent, “until the walls of Jericho come down.”