NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – Labour Minister John Munyes has appointed a ‘Conciliation Committee’ to arbitrate the Teachers’ pay dispute as teachers prepare to down their tools next Monday.
In a statement, Mr Munyes acknowledged receiving a report from his Education counterpart Sam Ongeri who unsuccessfully tried to break a deadlock in a nine-month negotiations between the Kenya National Union of Teachers and their employer, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) two weeks ago.
“In the report, it is evident that the parties held several meetings in the Teacher Service Remuneration Committee (TSRC) but did not agree on all issues,” the minister said.
The arbitration Committee will be led by Senior Deputy Labour Commissioner Alice Tabu with Secretaries James Ndiho and Joseph Nyaga also from the Labour Ministry.
Members include George Muchai of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions and Maureen Onyango of Federation of Kenya Employers.
Ex-officio members will include a representative each from the Ministries of Education, Finance and Public Service.
“The Committee has already begun its work and met the parties today (Friday),” Mr Munyes confirmed.
The Minister however stayed clear of Monday’s strike which TSC has already outlawed and warned participants that they would lose their dues.
While KNUT is demanding a lump sum payment of Sh19 billion the Education Minister insists the economy can only afford Sh17.1 billion which can only be paid over 36 months. The union also wants the increment effected starting this month while the government has given July as a viable date.
Prof Ongeri won part of the battle when a rival union the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers accepted a similar deal and urged its members in secondary schools and other tertiary institutions not to take part in Monday’s strike. KNUT however maintains that it still has high membership in these institutions.
According to the law, if the new committee fails to reach consensus the Labour Minister is supposed to refer the matter to the industrial court for direction. But court matters could be tedious and protracted. An example is the 2006 case of the University Academic Staff Union (UASU) in which the court reduced the offer the union had rejected after a year in the court.
Prof Ongeri has warned that once the matter leaves his officer the offer will be withdrawn.