NAIROBI: The contentious Sh50 billion salary proposal the teachers’ employer floated last year but later withdrew returned to haunt the Government as talks to end the nationwide teachers’ strike deadlocked Tuesday.
The tripartite meeting called by Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi ran into trouble after the unions rejected a new offer by the Teachers Service Commission ( TSC).
The Government announced it had offered teachers a package worth Sh9.3 billion to settle house, harship and leave allowances. “The offer tabled today addresses those concerns. An elaborate morgage and car loan scheme for all teachers as well as a daily subsistence allowance from Job group G to R are included,” Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi said. The offer would push the annual teacher wage bill to Sh170 billion.
Knut Deputy Secretary General Charles Katege said the offer tabled by the Government only contained allowances that do not benefit all the teachers.
“We are disturbed that TSC always prepares an offer that is inferior to what we have demanded,” said Katege.
The officials said the strike shall not be called off until the salary component is included in the offer.
Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion, who did not attend the meeting, said the strike shall not be called off.
“We shall not take anything that does not have a salary component. The meeting was another of the many games the Government has played for so long. The allowances they are tabling are not anything new,” he said.
Trade Union Congress of Kenya (TUC-K) officials represented by Tom Odege and Charles Mukhwaya also attended the meeting.
Details from the meeting revealed Knut demanded that the talks start from ‘the salary offer’ that the Government withdrew following the intervention of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).
Last year’s ‘offer’ by the TSC proposed to increase teachers’ salaries by between 50 and 60 per cent. It would see teachers’ basic pay adjusted by between Sh10,000 and Sh54,000.
Efforts by the Government to push Knut to end the strike failed.
“The Government maintained that the teachers’ strike be called off first before any offer is tabled. They also insisted that we sign a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). But the CBA did not have any salary increment and we could not listen to that, hence the stalemate,” said Katege.
He said after several hours of deliberations to set the ground rules for the talks, it emerged that the Government was not ready to table any salary increment for teachers.
He said the government plans to use the rival union to sign an inferior deal to scuttle the talks.
Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary General Akelo Misori dismissed the statement as cheap talk and challenged Knut to negotiate with the Government.
“If the deal is inferior, they did not have to be there for many hours. It is up to them. We have a meeting today (Tuesday) with the Government,” said Misori.
Katege said the offer on allowances was too little. “Our main demand is the salary increment,” said Katege.
The offer tabled Tuesday reveals that the Government wants all teachers to earn leave allowance effective July 1, 2015. The new offer says the allowance shall be paid every year and based on teachers job groups.
If accepted by the unions, the lowest paid teacher of job group G would take home Sh4,000 annually as leave allowance, as the highest paid teacher in job group R gets Sh10,000 annually.
The offer tabled by TSC also commits to pay a harmonised house allowance effective July 1, 2015.
The Government also committed to pay a harmonised commuter allowance spread in two instalments with effect from July 1, 2013. If accepted by Knut, the lowest paid teachers shall earn Sh4,000 towards this allowance.
The highest paid teachers in Job group R shall take home Sh16,000, up from the current Sh10,205.