NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 2 – Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has threatened a nationwide teachers strike if the government fails to start negotiations on new salaries for teachers and to implement an increase to allowances as agreed in 1997.
KNUT Secretary General David Okuta said on Monday that teachers should prepare to down their tools soon as the union sorts out procedural issues before it announces the strike date.
“We cannot sit back and watch as our teachers are wallowing in sheer poverty and low pay. The government should increase our pay, we are telling our teachers to get ready and we shall inform them accordingly,” Okuta declared.
Teachers should by now have received various allowances including house allowances (50 percent of basic salary), medical allowance of 30 percent, and commuter allowance of 10 percent and 30 percent allowance for areas gazetted as hardship areas.
“We persuaded the government to engage us in negotiations for a very long time but our plea landed on deaf ears. We have our very own problems; teachers want their enhanced salaries and allowances given priority. They are working on very hard conditions and we cannot go on requesting the government for negotiations. We will now withdraw labour from the classrooms very soon,” he said.
In February KNUT had proposed a new salary structure that would have seen teachers’ pay reviewed upwards by 300 percent, but on which it wanted negotiations to commence.
Under the proposed structure KNUT wanted responsibility allowance at 50 percent, 40 percent and 30 percent for principals and head teachers, deputies and senior teachers and Heads of Departments respectively.
Okuta took issue with the budget read last month (June) saying that the Treasury did not factor the requirement that KNUT had proposed.
The egovernment only provided money for employment of 10,000 new teachers against KNUT’s appeal for 40,000 teachers.
Last year, KNUT led a countrywide teachers strike demanding the increase in the number of teachers by up to 20,000 a demand that the government acceded to.