14 February 2013

Kenya: Teachers to Strike Next Week

Nairobi — The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has issued a strike notice for Monday next week over what they term as failure by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to release their allowances.

Speaking during the Union's National Executive Council meeting (NEC), Secretary General Xavier Nyamu said the union had given the commission five days to resolve the matter or else teachers will down their tools.

He indicated that a meeting with TSC to resolve the issue of allowances failed to reach a solution and that the commission asked for time to consult.

"The days left for the government to respond expires at midnight on Sunday so we are asking the government to respond quickly to withdraw that legal notice because that is what the law says and even if you look at the standing orders, it does not give the government an option that it will be discussed," he stated.

He explained that the union has told its members to be ready to down their tools should the TSC not release the allowances immediately.

"The teachers should be ready and we have asked them that from Monday, they should withdraw labour but we hope because we think since the government is one of action, something should come up before that," he said.

The union is demanding that the commission pays Sh25 billion in annual allowances which includes housing, commuter and medical commuted in the ratios of 50 percent, 10pc and 20pc of teachers' basic pay respectively.

This was part of a deal the government reached with KNUT in 1997.

However, a legal notice published to effect the pay (No.534 of 1997) was countered with another (No.16 of 2003) to reduce the payments.

Teachers contested the legality of the 2003 notice until last year in September when they went on strike for three weeks paralysing operations in public schools.

The industrial action was resolved when the government agreed to pay teachers Sh13.5 billion in basic salary but left out the allowances which were a matter before a parliamentary select committee then.

The TSC disagreed with the union over whether the allowances should be paid immediately, especially after the select committee tabled a report in Parliament last month indicating that the notice of 2003 was illegal.

The commission argued that it would be difficult to implement the pay since the 2003 notice had not been degazetted by Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo.

In the report tabled before the select committee by Kilonzo on January 3, the House had urged the Education Minister to degazette the TSC (Remuneration of Teachers Amendment order 2003) gazetted in the Kenya Gazette supplement Number 17 of February 21, 2003 as legal notice Number 16 of 2003.

This would set the stage for the award of the Sh25 billion allowances to the teachers.

A section of their return-to-work agreement said that both parties including the government and the union will respect the ruling made by Parliament regarding the validity of the notices.

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