NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 25 – The Ministry of Labour now says the government is not obligated to implement the agreement the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) entered into with the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC) in 1997.
Labour Secretary Kazungu Kambi said that while the agreement was gazetted, the government of the day is not legally bound by it and has called the union back to the negotiating table.
“KNUT have always been clinging on the legal notice of 1997 but a legal notice can be changed any time. So if it was not done in 1997, you want it to be done today 100 percent. It’s not possible,” he said.
Kambi went on to declare the ongoing teachers’ strike illegal explaining that all avenues of negotiation were yet to be exhausted, “We have not even started dialogue, so how do you go to the street?”
The Labour Secretary now wants KNUT and the government to enter into a fresh Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), “I’ve not disowned the legal notice but I’m saying the best instrument for negotiation is CBA because a gazette notice can be changed any time. It largely depends upon which government is in power, but a CBA nobody can change it (sic) because it’s the only instrument for negotiation.”
KNUT has however dug in its heels with National Chairman Wilson Sossion accusing Kambi of deceit and maintaining that their strike is legal.
“Negotiations were completed in 1997. This is not a coconut plantation, why is Kambi lying to Kenyans? We will only be willing to talk after the Treasury has sent our money to TSC,” Sossion told Capital FM News.
Sossion added that the only way they would even consider entering into another CBA is if the provisions of the 1997 agreement are met in full, “Let them pay the Sh47 billion we’re owed before asking us to sign another agreement. The longer they play games, the longer we stay out of the classroom.”
The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) who called their strike a week ago have taken a softer stance and have been involved in negotiations with the TSC.
“We are open to negotiations,” KUPPET National Chairman Milemba Omboko told Capital FM News, “but there are things we will not walk away from the negotiating table without and those are a commuter allowance, responsibility allowance and provisions for the promotion of our teachers.”