, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 1 – Deputy President William Ruto has urged the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) to comply with an order by the Industrial Court directing that they end their strike, and engage in negotiations with the government.
Ruto said the government was ready to comply with Justice Linnet Ndolo’s order, adding that a consultative committee is already in place to conduct negotiations between KNUT, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) and the Teachers Service Commission.
“The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is also mandated by the TSC Act to constitute a consultative committee on the Terms and Conditions of Service of registered teachers. This committee which has five representatives nominated by trade unions representing the interests of registered teachers is already in place,” Ruto said at a press briefing on Monday.
He went on to direct the Ministry of Labour to convene a meeting between the TSC, Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), KNUT and KUPPET by Wednesday for the purpose of commencing the negotiations.
“The government directs the Ministry of Labour to convene an urgent meeting of the SRC, the TSC Consultative Committee on the Terms and Conditions of Service of Registered Teachers and the two unions, KNUT and KUPPET to formulate a framework for negotiation. This framework will incorporate all outstanding issues,” Ruto said.
The deputy president however refused to give in to the KNUT demand that the negotiations be solely based on the provisions of Legal Notice 534 of 1997 and not Legal Notice 16 of 2003 accusing KNUT of being duplicitous in its denial of the latter.
“The teachers must also accept that they engaged in negotiations in 2003, and in the subsequent negotiations of 2003 they signed to amend the negotiations in 1997 and that is documented,” Ruto said.
He also accused the teachers of attempting to attain the public’s sympathy by claiming there were no provisions made for the recruitment and promotion of teachers in the current financial year.
“We also expect the leaders of our teachers to negotiate in good faith and in honesty. If you are not as honest as you are expected then it complicates the negotiations. I’ve heard teachers’ representatives say there is no money in the budget for the recruitment of teachers. The budget is a public document. If you go to the budget today there is money to recruit an additional 10,000 teachers,” Ruto said.
The deputy president was also at pains to explain that the Sh53 billion allocated to the purchase of laptops does not mean the government has Sh47 billion lying around to meet KNUT’s demands.
“When the leaders of teachers tell the country that there is Sh53 billion this year in the budget for the laptop project, the truth of the matter is that we only have Sh15 billion for the laptop project in the budget this year. How would you translate Sh15 billion today to Sh47 billion,” he said.
Ruto therefore asked the teachers’ unions to be reasonable in their demands and give room for negotiations that will result in, “binding agreements.”
“We are not keen to engage in political agreements. We want legal, constitutional, binding agreements,” Ruto said.
Contrary to Ruto’s open arms approach, Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi maintained that should the striking teachers not report to work come Tuesday morning, they should not expect payment for services unrendered.