NAIROBI, October 15 – The Government and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) have disagreed on an implementation plan of a tentative pay rise for teachers.
Refusing to divulge the actual figures, KNUT acting Secretary General Lawrence Manjali said on Wednesday that government’s proposal to spread the rise in five phases was unacceptable.
Mr Manjali told a press conference that the two could also not agree on the commencement date for the increases in the latest meeting held on Tuesday.
“The Union stand is that as other government employees are enjoying better salaries now the teachers should likewise be paid the new salaries immediately. The experience of the 1997 salary awards where teachers waited for 10 years is still very fresh in our minds,” he said.
The government delegation in the Teachers Service Remuneration Committee (TSRC) that has been engaged in the negotiations since last year December is expected to report back the government verdict at a meeting scheduled for 30th of this month after consulting their ‘principals’.
On its part KNUT has also called a meeting of its National Executive Council on October 29 to chart the way forward. “We have called them to brief them so that they can give us a direction since they are our principals. We have to be ready on the answer we get from the government. If it is good we will say hallelujah if not we will say what to do next,” the secretary general stated.
Asked on what action they would take if the government failed to give in to their demands Manjali said:”We will cross that bridge when we reach there.” He however urged teachers to remain patient as the deliberations went on.
The teachers have engaged the government on a protracted battle over the harmonisation of their salaries with those of other civil servants for the better part of this year. Education Minister Sam Ongeri and the Prime Minister Raila Odinga have committed to the harmonisation but KNUT seems to have backed from this.
“We want more than harmonisation, we want each and every worker to have his case addressed across the board not just a few in the high cadres,” Mr Manjali insisted.
Chairman George Wesonga added: “At no time have we ever asked for harmonisation, ours has always been to fight for the improvement of the salaries of teachers.”
KNUT differed sharply with another union, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) representing teachers in secondary schools and tertiary institutions who have been pushing for the harmonisation. Mr Wesonga dismissed KUPPET and maintained that KNUT was the only official body recognised by the government to negotiate on behalf of all teachers.
KUPPET has already warned that they would head to the streets if the government failed to effect the harmonisation within the next three months. The government has nevertheless refused to negotiate with the union until it achieves a 51 percent membership. It is currently recruiting its members. They pulled out of a planned strike last month over the membership requirement hitch.