, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 19 – The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has given the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) an ultimatum to conclude the ongoing negotiations by December 5, failure to which teachers will go on strike.
Speaking following a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Wednesday morning, Secretary General Wilson Sossion stressed that teachers in the country are grossly underpaid and the most taxed and if the issue of their basic pay is not addressed, they will pass a motion for industrial action during the Annual Delegates’ Conference set for December 9.
He further pointed out that calls by TSC for teachers to undergo a job evaluation exercise before talks resume is misplaced and termed it as a delay tactic by the commission.
“If this process will not have been conclude by December 5, then we shall move a motion on December 9 at the Annual Delegates Conference and this is the first time in the history of the union that a National Delegates Conference will have a rare opportunity to vote for an industrial action,” he said.
He stated that many teachers were working in deplorable conditions.
“This amounts to punishment and indeed near slavery and we would like to invite everyone especially the government to the provisions of the Constitution section 41 that workers have a right to fair remuneration, fair labour practice, right to join a trade union and a right to a Collective Bargaining Agreement,” he outlined.
“It is also important to know that the teachers of this country are the most taxed and the leading tax payers to the exchequer and if you pay tax you must get services in return and this includes fair compensation and it is what we are asking for. Therefore our demand to conclude negotiations amicable was informed by many reasons. You are all aware that we were on strike last year which ended acrimoniously since we were bundled unfairly with a view of punishing and intimidating teachers and the union through trumped up charges.”
He said that the union will not be cowed by anyone and will continue serving teachers and advocating for their rights no matter what is thrown at them.
“That is not going to dampen our spirits since we had a return-to-work formula which we signed and deposited at the Industrial Court and it bears the signatures of government representatives. The clauses are also clear that negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement shall commence immediately and be concluded within 90 days,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by the union’s National Chairman Mudzo Nzili who indicated that job evaluation was not part of their return-to-work formula and emphasised the need for teachers’ patience not to be misconstrued as weakness.
“Our demonstration of patriotism was misconstrued to mean weakness, fear or cowardice to take the intended industrial action that we wanted to take. At that time, we had said that the world was not ending during the national examinations and that is why we called upon the National Executive Council today to take a stand,” he said.