NAIROBI, September 7 – The Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) has issued a 21-day strike notice to protest the government’s failure to harmonise their salaries with those of other civil servants.
KUPPET Secretary General Njeru Kanyamba said Sunday that members would down their tools on September 26 unless the government showed commitment to resolve the dispute.
“At the expiry of the notice, except otherwise directed, the teachers will withdraw their services until the deal is sealed,” Kanyamba insisted.
“Teachers have indicated that they cannot wait indefinitely without a word from the employer.”
The notice, he said, was delivered to the ministries of Education and Higher Education last Friday.
The SG said that the union has been trying to engage the Education Ministry for the last five months but Minister Professor Sam Ongeri had failed to meet them despite promises by Prime Minister Raila Odinga that the matter would be sorted out.
The union represents teachers in Secondary Schools and those in government tertiary institutions.
The SG said that the more than 80,000 teachers in job groups J through R have been discriminated against despite their qualifications.
In an analysis Kanyamba presented, the lowest ranked teacher in job group J earns Sh16,535, about Sh4,000 less than their counterparts in the civil servants.
National and Provincial School Principals in job group N earn Sh44,990 as opposed to their civil servants in the same grade who earn Sh120,217.
While addressing school heads in Mombasa recently, Odinga raised concerns over the disparities and said that the government was committed to looking into the issues expeditiously.
Union Chairman Maurice Misori cast aspersions on the Teacher Salary Remuneration Committee that is enjoined in negotiations to review the salaries, and insisted that the government must negotiate with the union directly.
TSRC was appointed in December last year but KUPPET is not represented. It is dominated by members of the giant Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT).
“The existence of the committee has been used by the government to procrastinate what teachers are supposed to get,” Misori expressed.
The union has already downplayed a proposed 210 percent pay increase, insisting on nothing short of the harmonisation. It adds that the monies should not be paid in instalments like the famous 1998 agreement.
Kanyamba also dismissed the proposed ‘wholesome increment’ for all teachers.
“Let’s address those who are in ICU first,” he stated.
KUPPET treasurer Wicks Njenga said that the exercise would only cost Sh10 billion and not the Sh17 billion projected by the government.
The new tussle comes at the completion of a historical 10-year increment awarded by the government in 1998.
The teachers are also engaged in a war of words with the executive over the signing of performance contracts like other government officers.
While the PM insists that they too should join the rest in signing the pacts, Misori suggested Sunday that the ‘chest thumping’ is misplaced. He said that the government should first better their working conditions, before ‘negotiating’ the contacts with them.
“How do you sign performance contracts when deliverables are not agreed upon, when our take is not forthcoming?” Misori questioned.