The president assured the union that it was not necessary for them to remain on strike as their grievances have been addressed by the government.
“Teachers had raised a number of issues, to be specific, eight issues that they wanted resolved. Of all those issues raised by teachers, the first to do with recruitment, a provision was made in the budget for the recruitment of 10,000 teachers,” President Kenyatta said.
He added that funds for the promotion of teachers had also been set aside and their demands for a responsibility allowance, special need teacher allowance and a commuter allowance increase had also been taken into account.
“With regard to commuter allowance, responsibility allowance and the special needs allowance, as a government we engaged the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and they gave us parameters within which we should negotiate with teachers. On those issues we stand ready, as soon as the teachers are at the table, to discuss those issues in line with the guidelines that were given to us by the SRC,” Kenyatta said.
He went on to explain that the government had taken cognisance of the teachers’ demands for a leave allowance and an increased housing allowance, matters he said were under the purview of the SRC.
“On the issue of house allowance and leave allowance, again in consultation with SRC, SRC said these two issues do not touch on teachers alone but the entire public service and they told us that they needed to time to have further in-house consultations before they can give us a way forward. Again, not saying that we are not willing to discuss, but we need to follow the law,” President Kenyatta explained.
The Head of State said the government was even willing to discuss Legal Notice 534 of 1997, which they have previously stated is not binding, if it will cause KNUT to call off their strike.
“We are willing to look at all issues and in fact when it comes to the two legal notices there are very clear issues around that but all those points are not going to be discussed by us shouting at one another, they can only be resolved at a table,” the Head of State said.
He went on to assure the teachers that should they give negotiations a chance, they will not be short changed. “The teachers know that they have engaged me personally in the past and everything we have discussed with them, we have fulfilled. So I see no reason why we would not be able to find a proper solution to the issues still pending before us.”
KNUT has however accused the government of being insincere in its calls for dialogue given the contempt of court proceedings set in motion by the Teachers Service Commission.
“How can we truly negotiate in a hostile environment, with a noose around our necks?” KNUT Chairman Wilson Sossion posed to Capital FM News.
President Kenyatta was however categorical that court matters are beyond the reach of his influence. “Those orders were issued by the court and it is only the court which can determine whether they’re going to be terminated.”