, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 31 – The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has now given the government 30 days to conclude pay rise talks, after negotiations scheduled for Friday with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) were cancelled indefinitely.
KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion says if the talks don’t end before November 30, they will refer the matter to the 57th Annual Delegates Conference scheduled for December 9 for further action.
The union has written to the chairman of the Consultative Committee on Terms and Conditions of Service which was leading the process to have the talks resume immediately adding that they will not accept negotiations after the period lapses.
“Today we expected to be at the Teachers Service Commission to receive the government offer. Instead yesterday, we received a letter signed by the commission’s CEO cancelling the consultative meeting scheduled for today indefinitely with no sufficient and convincing explanations,” Sossion complained.
On September 11, KNUT called off their planned strike after the government through TSC convinced them to give room for structured dialogue which kicked off on September 30.
But the teachers’ union regrets that TSC has started frustrating them after the letter postponing Friday’s meeting.
“Please note that the consultative committee meeting scheduled for October 31, 2014, has been postponed as the chair of the committee is engaged. A date for the next meeting will be communicated,” the brief letter to KNUT from TSC chief executive Gabriel Lengoiboni read.
Sossion says it was not in the interest of teachers to have a strike considering the ongoing national examinations but if all options fail, they will mobilise one incorporating all public servants.
“The strike is a right enshrined in the Constitution, section 41. The workers have the right to go on strike. And indeed it is the last resort that any trade union can use. That is why we’re demonstrating that by the end of this process we will know who exactly is a liar; the government or us,” Sossion said.
On Friday last week the government also sought for more time to allow negotiations to continue, but KNUT has termed this a tactic to refuse to fulfil the teachers’ demands.
Consultative meetings which have been taking place weekly, bring together KNUT, TSC, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) and government officials.
Among other demands, the teachers have been seeking a 200 percent pay rise but the government has remained adamant due to what it terms as managing the wage bill in the country.
“KNUT has itemised demands comprising 38 items to the employer. The government has failed and or neglected to fulfil even a single item from that list,” Sossion protested.