NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 7 – A fresh attempt to end a strike by teachers collapsed on Wednesday after the government rejected a Sh700 billion pay demand by the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET).
Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi who chaired a meeting between the union, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the Ministry of Education said the meeting was not conclusive as KUPPET also declined to unconditionally take up the government’s offer of Sh9.3 billion.
“I regret that the negotiations have not been conclusive and have therefore been postponed. KUPPET partially accepted the government’s offer of Sh9.3 billion to all teachers” said Kambi.
He said the offer they made to teachers had in fact stretched the government’s resource allocation to other sectors of the economy adding that this was its last stroke. READ: Treasury: Can’t pay teachers more, won’t pay.
“Despite the government commitment to the welfare of the teachers, the unions went ahead to call the strike. I wish to reiterate that the strike action was premature; the union had not exhausted all procedures that the law prescribes under the Labour Relations Act 2007 hence not protected. It is in this context that the government deems the strike action to be illegal, unjustified and therefore uncalled for as ruled by the Industrial Court,” Kambi added. READ: Teachers strike to continue after fresh talks collapsed.
KUPPET on the other hand is accusing the government of unwillingness to respond to teachers’ demands, insisting that they must get a 150 percent basic salary increment before they can consider calling off the strike, which they have maintained is still on owing to the failed talks.
The union’s Secretary General Akelo Misori further dismissed the government’s claims that salary increment could only be done after the completion of the salary evaluation of all public servants by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission(SRC) terming it a delay tactic to deny teachers their rights.
However in a quick rejoinder, the Labour Cabinet Secretary warned teachers participating in the strike that they risked facing disciplinary action as the strike was illegal.
“I call upon those teachers who have not already resumed classes to do so as directed by the Ministry of Education and the Teachers Service Commission. Those who heed my call and return to class will be guaranteed security and no punitive action will be taken against them,” Kambi warned.
On Tuesday, the Chairman of the Kenya National Union of Teachers Mudzo Nzili walked out of a similar meeting convened by the ministry maintaining that the allowances being proposed by the government were not enough further demanding the signing of an agreement including an increase in basic salaries.