, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 2 – Former Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Francis Ngang’a has taken issue with Labour Secretary Kazungu Kambi’s statement that the Union had earlier re-negotiated the 1997 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Ngang’a emphasised that they had never re-negotiated the agreement describing Kambi’s statement as an attempt to draw attention from the real issue.
He said that he did not sign any documents reducing teachers’ allowances and pointed out that the document presented by the labour minister was selective.
“There is nowhere in this document where a salary package is being talked about as established by the Reconciliation Committee set in December 2002,” he stated.
“Because those people wanted to throw away the legal notice, we fought through the High Court and it was brought back and therefore the committee came up with a package and that is the basis on which we had an agreement,” he said.
He also accused the government of sneaking in legal notice no. 16 without the knowledge of Union officials.
“Their failure to engage in serious discussions is their undoing. You have not seen anywhere where we committed this Union or the teachers of Kenya to any possibility of a denial to their rights and we did what was supposed to be done at that time under very difficult situations,” he indicated.
He further pointed out that as previous Union officials, they had to undergo a lot and even then the government did not honor its promises.
“Adongo died fighting and we buried him while we were mourning and only phase one was paid. The government then cheated and refused to pay. The same government later came to de-gazette that legal notice,” he stated.
Ngang’a further stated that should the benefits under legal notice 534 have been illegal, they would not have been paid their dues.
“We were also involved in another war because they refused to pay. And consequently last year, teachers were also on strike and they got some benefits out of the legal notice 534. If they did not exist, they would not have paid those packages pegged on that legal notice,” he said.
“So it has been a struggle for the union since independence and that is why I am saying that some of us struggled to an extent that we became sick and even slept in the bushes.”
Industrial Court Judge Linnet Ndolo yesterday ordered all striking teachers to return to their work stations and ruled that the strike was illegal as no notice was served before its commencement and that all the avenues of negotiation had not been exhausted.
Ndolo was however cognisant of the teachers’ grievances and ordered the Ministry of Labour to engage both KNUT and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) in resolving the dispute over their allowances.
The Ministry of Education through its Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi and the Ministry of Labour through Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi have gone on record stating that the government is not bound by Legal Notice 534 of 1997 but by the amendments captured in Legal Notice 16 of 2003.
KNUT on the other hand is adamant that it will not even consider negotiations unless they are based on Legal Notice 534 of 1997.
Ndolo also directed the Ministry of Labour to arbitrate between the TSC and KUPPET on the subject of commuter, leave and responsibility allowances even as the former claimed it was not bound by a Collective Bargaining Agreement.