Teachers reject government’s new pay offer

Kenya: Even as uncertainty looms ahead of tomorrow’s official opening day for schools, The Standard on Sunday has exclusively established that a new pay package, that includes several allowances, is on the cards for teachers.

The document, seen by The Standard On Sunday and which is reflected in various circulars from the Sarah Serem-led Salaries and Remuneration Commission, demonstrates commitment by the government to review teachers’ basic pay by June 2016.

It also lists a raft of allowances that the over 288,000 teachers will enjoy if unions seal the deal. Nonetheless, the Kenya National Union of Teachers  (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) never got a chance to discuss or weigh in on the offers.

Knut officials kept off the meeting as the agony of parents and students heightened with the  unions rejecting the offer tabled by the government. They instead maintained the strike was still on from tomorrow (Monday).

Asked about a court injunction filed by parents, Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion quipped, “We have not been served but court injunctions are nothing to us. We have seen many in the past whenever we call for any strike to push for the interests of teachers.”

Sossion went on, “Even if we were to agree to any deal, it may take one to two weeks to reconstitute our National Executive Council (NEC) to call off the strike. What this means is that there will be no teaching from Monday as teachers will not report to work as per our instructions.”

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has, however, appealed to parents to send their children to school even as teachers’ unions maintained the strike is on.

“The commission has been served with a court order which placed an injunction on strike called by unions. Teachers are, therefore, advised to report to their respective duty stations in compliance with the court order,” said TSC chairperson Lydia Nzomo. But after several hours of wait, only Kuppet honoured the consultative meeting appointment at the TSC head office.

Knut officials played ‘hide-and-seek games’ with the employer as their mobile phones remained shut for the better part of yesterday.

This came as Sossion told The Standard on Sunday that union officials will attend the TSC meeting.

“I am still in the office but we are leaving for the TSC meeting,” Sossion said yesterday morning at about 11 am. Knut officials failed to honour the meeting, denying the government side the necessary quorum for the meeting. “Let them negotiate with  Ndunda. The train left station left the station,” said Sossion in a text message sent at 5 pm, long after the meeting by Kuppet ended.

Kenya National Association of Parents secretary general Musau Ndunda obtained court orders barring teachers from the planned nationwide strike.

Nzomo faulted the boycott by Knut and said the government had an offer that would have culminated into signing a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

“It was agreed that in the spirit of negotiating in good faith, the meeting be rescheduled to Friday January 9, 2015…the talks have not collapsed and the government is ready to continue and conclude the negotiations,” she said.

Graduated scale

TSC commissioner Cleopas Tirop, Robert Masese of the Ministry of Education and committee chairman, Joseph Obonyo said they were committed to negotiating with the unions.  For the first time, the government has introduced leave allowance for all teachers effective July 1, 2015. The allowance will be paid once a year based on teachers’ job groups.

The lowest paid teacher of job group P1, Approved Teachers (AT) IV and Graduate Teacher (GAT) III will take home some Sh4,000 annually towards leave allowance.

Also, GAT II, I, Senior Graduate Teachers and all Principal Graduate Teachers II of job group L, M and N will pocket  Sh6,000.

Teachers in job group P, Q and R will get Sh10,000 annually.

The government also says house allowance has been harmonised and notes that all teachers will adopt the new allowances effective July 1 2015.

“The new rates have four clusters that have taken cognisance of the cost of housing in different regions of the country,” reads the document seen by The Standard on Sunday.

The clusters, as proposed by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission,  lists Nairobi, Major Municipalities (Mombasa, Kisumu, Malindi, Kilifi, Lamu, Kwale and Naivasha), Other Municipalities (Nyeri, Eldoret, Kericho, Kakamega, Kisii, Embu, Nanyuki, Nakuru, Lodwar and Garissa) and Other County Headquarters.

The lowest paid teachers of job group G and living in Nairobi will get Sh6,750, up from 5,000. Those in major municipalities will get Sh4,500 from the current Sh3,000. Teachers in other municipalities’ will earn Sh3, 850 while  those in other county headquarters will get Sh3,200

The highest paid teachers of job group R and living in Nairobi will take home Sh50,000 up from the current Sh40, 000.

Teachers of same job group from the other three categories will earn between Sh35,000 and Sh20,000 on a graduated scale.

Kuppet secretary general Akello Misori yesterday said the offer was too little and did not amount to a counter offer. “They have only given us a mortgage plan of between Sh10 million of teachers in job group K and L and a car loan of Sh1.5 million,” he said. “The strike is still on because the real issues demanded by Kuppet have not been addressed. We have been asked to think through the offer,” he said.

Absolute figures

The government also tabled a hardship allowance, noting that the rates will no longer be pegged as a percentage of teachers’ basic salary. “The rates will now be at capped absolute figures,” reads the document.

Teachers of job group G will take home Sh5,700 up from Sh5,007. These figures are graduated to Sh38 000 for teachers in job group R.

The government also committed to paying, in two installments, a harmonised commuter allowance as per the Return to Work Formula signed in 2013. This payment will be backdated to July 1, 2013.

The new rates for the lowest paid teachers will now be Sh4,000, almost double the current rate. The highest paid teachers of job group R will take home Sh16,000 up from the current Sh10,205. Head teachers, deputy head teachers and senior teachers in job group K and below will also be backdated to July 1, 2013. The new rates for this allowance shall see head teachers take home between Sh1,500 (single streams) and Sh 15,000 (ten streams).

Deputy head teachers will also take home between Sh400 (single stream) and Sh4,000 (ten stream).

Senior teachers will earn some Sh300 (single stream) and Sh600 (ten stream). All teachers in special schools and units will earn a special school allowance at a flat rate of Sh10,000. The current rate is varied from Sh1, 669 to Sh10,908.

Readers allowance for all visually impaired teachers in teaching service will also be pegged at a flat rate of Sh15,000. The rates are currently fixed at Sh7,785.

Teachers will also get special allowance during official assignments away from their stations. Daily subsistence allowance (for local travel) will now range from Sh 4,200 to 8,400 on lower scales. The figures will range between Sh6,300 and Sh14,000 on the higher scale. The rates will also depend on regional clusters.

The government also listed the provisions of the comprehensive medical cover of an inpatient cover of between Sh 300,000 to Sh 1 million.