NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 13 – The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) has finally signed an agreement with the government to effect a harmonisation of their salaries with other civil servants. KUPPET Secretary General Njeru Kanyamba confirmed to capital News on Tuesday evening that the union had formally accepted the offer that its rival the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) rejected last week.
Kanyamba said that the union’s National Executive council would subsequently meet on Wednesday to pass a resolution to call off their strike planned for Thursday.
“It is a very good deal and we believe that the teachers will like it,” he said adding that they had sought their members’ feelings before accepting the offer.
But in a quick rejoinder KNUT Secretary General Lawrence Majali maintained that the giant union would go ahead with its planned strike next Monday.
“We are still consulting on the modalities of the salaries and we will be able to respond to this new development tomorrow (Wednesday),” the defiant SG said.
Talks between the Ministry of Education and KNUT collapsed last week after the union rejected the government’s three- year phased offer.
Education Minister Professor Sam Ongeri has insisted that the government cannot afford the Sh17.3 billion worth of increases in lump sum as demanded by the teachers and said he would be pushing the tussle to his labour counterpart.
By accepting the offer teachers in secondary schools and tertiary institutions will get pay hikes of between 35 and 172 percent for the lowest and highest paid teacher respectively.
“Different job groups are getting different percentages and it depends which job group one is,” Mr Kanyamba said.
The union members are in Job groups J to R. Group J members will take home a minimum of Sh22,322 and a maximum of Sh25,895 up from Sh16,535 and Sh20,735 respectively. Graduate teachers who are classified in group K will now enjoy a starting salary of Sh26,323 up from Sh18,165.
Chief Principals who are 101 in number and the highest paid teachers will take home a package of between Sh94,235 and Sh120,270.
Kanyamba confided that they had reluctantly resolved to accept the three-year phased perks to avoid tedious litigation at the Industrial court.
Former KNUT SG Francis Ng’ang’a has in the meantime called on the government and the union to each cede more ground and resolve the current standoff surrounding teachers’ salary.
Speaking to Capital News on Tuesday Mr Ng’ang’a said that while KNUT should consider the economic viability the government should show signs of cutting on its excesses and curbing corruption that he says has worsened.
“If there is good will, if there is faith and no arrogance from both sides a solution can be got because when people trust each other then they can hear each other’s positions and achieve a common ground,” he said. “Negotiations is always a game of give and take.”
Mr Ng’ang’a however said the division of the teaching fraternity into two factions and the evident rivalry works against the interests of teachers.