NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – Teachers have scored big after the Employment and Labour Relations Court awarded them a pay increase of between 50 and 60 percent, bringing to an end a protracted battle with the government.
In a landmark ruling on Tuesday, Justice Nduma Nderi directed the pay increase be back dated to July 1, 2013 and cover the period up to June 30, 2017.
“The court has upon careful consideration of the evidence before it found that the basic salary of teachers of between 50 to 60 percent for four years meets the wage review criteria set out herein before in this judgment and the court award the teachers accordingly. This award in reality translates to an annual award of between 12.5 percent to 15 percent,” he said.
“In line with the circular issued by the SRC July 4 2014, the Collective Bargaining agreement containing the 50 to 60 percent pay increase is effective from July 1 2013 and the same will expire on June 30 2017,” he stated.
He further decreed that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is the only body mandated to undertake a job evaluation of teachers, with the Salaries and Renumeration Commission (SRC) offering an advisory opinion.
“TSC is the employer of teachers and is the only body with the mandate to carry out a job evaluation of all teachers. Yes, the commission can receive advice from SRC but it is not bound to such advice. However TSC is not bound by the decision by the SRC to wait for a job evaluation exercise,” he ruled.
He advised TSC that it had abdicated its core mandate of determining teachers’ salaries as claimed by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) in their suit papers.
Justice Nderi further ruled that the Collective Bargaining Agreement should be registered between TSC and teachers’ unions within 30 days.
“The allowances and increases already awarded to the teachers by TSC with effect from July 1, 2015 which include house allowance, leave allowance and hardship allowance, advance for motor vehicle purchase, mortgage facilities are hereby confirmed as awarded by the court and the items to be reflected on the Collective Bargaining Agreement for the period July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2017,” he stated.
The bitterly contested pay increase for teachers goes back to 1994, when the late Ambrose Adongo was Secretary General of The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT).
The judgment, settled the long-running pay row the court has been arbitrating since January when parties agreed to the Judiciary’s intervention to end a nationwide teachers’ strike.
“The Economic Secretary told the court that government has consistently budgeted for a four percent basic salary increase for all public officers including teachers to cater for the loss of money value also known as inflation increase. It is common knowledge that the last negotiated salary increase to the teachers was in 1997,” Justice Nderi stated.
The unions had demanded a 300 percent salary raise alongside a raft of allowances which they wanted met before they could call off their strike.
Following many meetings with the government, the unions scaled down their demands to 150 percent and noted that the allowances would come after a salary hike.
They further maintained that an increase on basic salary was mandatory as it would set the pace for a CBA but TSC had stated that only Sh9.3 billion was available to enhance teachers’ allowances.
TSC had stated that the money was to cater for housing, commuting, hardship and leave allowances under the offer. Other allowances proposed by TSC were special schools and units allowances which were to be pegged on a flat rate of Sh10,000 while the current rates ranges from Sh1,669 to Sh10,908.
SRC chairperson Sarah Serem had also stated that a comprehensive job evaluation would determine the true pay for teachers and asked the court to quash teachers’ demands.
A stalemate ensued and the court assumed arbitration role after the TSC and the two teachers unions failed to agree.
The matter got more complicated after the Labour Ministry’s Central Planning and Monitoring Unit CPMU filed a document asking the court to consider awarding teachers a 128 percent salary raise, translating to Sh137 billion annually.
Suspended Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi told the court CPMU did not consult his office before filing the document, and requested that it be expunged from court records, but Justice Nderi declined.