, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 3 – A meeting between the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the government failed to bear fruit on Wednesday, after the union called for the exit of officials from the Salaries and Remuneration Commission from the talks.
The closed-door meeting at the Labour Cabinet Secretary’s office that took approximately three hours was broken off at intervals, as both sides took time to consult on issues being discussed.
Speaking to reporters after breaking off for lunch, KNUT Chairman Wilson Sossion stated that they had not reached any agreement but the talks would continue.
“Can I have some little peace? I have no news. If we did, we would tell you but so far (we have) none. We are however still engaging,” he told reporters camped at the ministry.
Earlier at the start of the talks, Labour Secretary Kazungu Kambi expressed optimism that the meeting would produce positive results and figuratively asked Kenyans to look out for ‘white smoke’ (usually emitted when bishops elect a new pope).
“You have seen that we have joined hands now. You can even see the white smoke coming out and our children will go back to school now,” he stated.
The KNUT officials at the meeting however reiterated that they would only go back to class after being paid their dues.
Also present at the meeting was the Principal Secretary for Labour Ali Ismael.
“Our CS honourable Kazungu will actually make some very brief remarks concerning this conciliation meeting and thereafter will let me chair it so that we can agree on the way forward in order to have this matter that has been on for the last two weeks resolved,” he stated.
Other officials present at the meeting included the Teacher Service Commission (TSC), National Treasury and Education officials.
Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) officials are expected to have an opportunity to present their case in the afternoon.
According to Kambi, the government has presented what they are calling the ‘five scenarios’ to upgrade their pay perks and employ more teachers immediately.
The SRC has also insisted that the demands by teachers must be fiscally sustainable, while KNUT demands that its 1997 agreement be met by the government in total.