Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: Strike Continues As KNUT, Govt Talks Collapse

Photo: The Star
Teachers defy court order and vow to continue with strike over unpaid dues by the government (file photo).

Nairobi — Talks between the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the government have collapsed after both parties refused to cede ground.

Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi says the government will not engage KNUT until they call off their strike as per the orders issued by the Industrial Court on Monday.

"Clause three of the ruling given by Justice Linnet Ndolo on Monday clearly stipulated that KNUT are to call off their strike before any negotiations can commence," Kambi said.

KNUT on the other hand has maintained that the strike which is in its second week will continue until the government degazettes Legal Notice 16 of 2003 and fulfills all the pledges captured by Legal Notice 534 of 1997.

"Our demands are house allowance to be paid in full as contained in Legal Notice 534 of 1997 which is 50 percent of one's basic salary, commuter allowance 20 percent and medical allowance 10 percent," KNUT Assistant Secretary General Mudzo Nzili said following the collapse of the talks.

Nzili maintained that those demands must be met before "fresh" negotiations are carried out on their new demands such as a responsibility allowance. "Other issues contained in our new memorandum shall be addressed by the appropriate committee."

KNUT also wants June salaries paid out to their members before they even consider reoccupying their seats at the negotiating table. "The June salaries which the teachers worked for should have been released by now. We are not slaves to have worked for nothing," Nzili said.

Our demands are house allowance to be paid in full as contained in Legal Notice 534 of 1997 which is 50 percent of one's basic salary, commuter allowance 20 percent and medical allowance 10 percent, KNUT Assistant Secretary General Mudzo Nzili said following the collapse of the talks.

And although the teachers' union accused the government of "taking them round in circles," all day Wednesday, Nzili said they are open to reconsidering their position should an attractive offer be put on the table.

"It is our wish that we are given everything but if you are a member of that committee of giving us the offer, give us the half and we shall look at it," Nzili said.

Both parties also accused each other of going back on promises made when the talks began. "We were under the assumption that Kambi was going to put an offer on the table this afternoon but the good news was the court order," Nzili said.

Kambi in turn accused KNUT of reneging on a promise to put Legal Notice 524 of 1997 behind them. "We agreed to vacate Legal Notice 534 of 1997 and Legal Notice 16 of 2003 and to embark on fresh negotiations."

Despite the walk out by KNUT, Kambi was optimistic that all was not lost adding that the government will consult the Attorney General on the way forward.

Olive Burrows has been writing features for the last five years having studied communication at Daystar University. She hopes to make a difference through human interest features and is passionate about the environment. She hopes to grow her experience doing radio and video features at Capital FM and to contribute to the brand's tradition of trend setting.

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InFocus

Kenyan Teachers' Strike Talks Collapse

Teachers defy court order and vow to continue with strike over unpaid dues by the government (file photo).

Talks between government and the union have collapsed after both parties failed to reach an agreement over the teachers' strike. Read more »