27 August 2012

Kenya: Sossion Explains Why Teachers Plan Strike

Photo: ACBF
Civil society has called upon teachers not to violate the rights of children by going on strike on September 3.

THE huge figures in the teachers' demand for a 300 per cent salary and allowances increment factors in the current high cost of living, this is according to the Kenya National Union of Teachers. The demand, if not met by government, may result to a September 3 nationwide teachers' strike which will affect reopening of schools.

The current push by teachers to be awarded this percentage is based on the 1997 agreement between Knut and the government which saw the payment of allowances to teachers postponed. The government then, explained that it was unable to pay the allowances due to the economy's poor performance.

Knut national chairman Wilson Sossion said the union sought consultancy from economists to arrive at the figures. "The economy has since improved, that is why we must have the pending allowances implemented," Sossion said. He added that what teachers are demanding for is derived from the Knut and government agreement which was gazetted as Legal Notice No. 534 of 1997.

"This a legal document that has on many occasions risked revocation," Sossion said. Recently, the government increased civil servants salaries, a move that angered teachers. Public Service minister Dalmas Otieno, while awarding civil servants, said that teachers' salary demands will be fulfilled in the next financial year.

Sossion said the industrial action will be real and asked members to get prepared. "Minister Otieno's remarks are meant to block teachers from getting their 300 per cent demand. We must get the percentage failure to which we shall strike," he said. Teachers expected the government to review the Sh233 billion entire education budget before July 27 and have salaries and allowances for teachers included.

Education minister Mutula Kilonzo has asked teachers not to go on strike during the reopening of third term arguing that candidates preparation for their final year exams will be severely affected. TSC has written to Treasury stating that what teachers want is legal. TSC says that a teachers award would cost the government Sh1, 113, 095, 269 per month or Sh13, 357, 145, 228 per year to cover all the teachers in the service as at July 1, 2012.

In 1997, the union's demand for house allowances was 50 per cent, 20 for medical and 10 for commuter. If the percentage was paid in 1997, a P2 teacher (Job Group F) minimum salary would have increased from Sh13, 750 to Sh24, 750 including the allowances. In the current 300 per cent demand a P2 teacher is supposed to get a minimum basic of Sh41, 250 but if the allowances are included he will earn Sh74, 250.

A P1 teacher (Job Group G) minimum salary would have rose from Sh15, 093 to Sh27, 167 in 1997, while the current demand would see them earn Sh45, 279 with a total of Sh81, 502 with allowances included. School principals at job group R were supposed to earn a minimum of Sh94, 947 in 1997, but if the allowances were included it summed to Sh169, 623. According to the current 300 per cent proposal, principals in job group R's should get a minimum of Sh282, 705 and rise to Sh508, 869 including the allowances. The maximum for a principal should be Sh649, 458.

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