By Vitalis Kimutai
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education (Kuppet) have yet again locked horns over fresh demands on salaries and allowances for teachers.
On Thursday, Kuppet issued a 14-day strike notice to the Teachers Service Commission, demanding 100 per cent pay rise in salaries, commuter and house allowances.
It only came a few days after Knut warned their members would down tools following the failure to factor in money to employ more teachers in the Budget Finance Minister Njeru Githae presented in Parliament last month.
Kuppet chairman Omboko Milemba and Secretary General Akello Misori said the decision by the Government to increase salaries for civil servants and leave out teachers was unconstitutional.
“It was a mockery on the teaching profession by the Government to fail to harmonise salaries for civil servants. We would not accept it. We shall ensure our demands are met,” Milemba said. He said the Government should harmonise commuter and house allowances for teachers and those of the civil servants.
The union claims civil servants in the same job group at the lower cadre with the teachers earn Sh10,000 more in allowances.
“We are demanding that the commuter and housing allowances for teachers be ratified as agreed in a deal signed between Kuppet and TSC in June 2009,” Milemba said.
The union has written to the Salaries Remuneration Commission, Ministries of Education, Labour, Finance, and TSC on the demands. While Knut is demanding employment of more teachers, Kuppet thinks otherwise, saying the Government should address the interest of the more than 200,000 teachers in the TSC payroll first before others are recruited.
“We should not mix issues here. What we are calling for is a 100 per cent increase of salary and arrears for teachers under the TSC payroll. It is sad the Government only understands the language of strike,” Misori said.
In effect, parents should brace themselves for the looming crisis in the third and last term of the year should the stike threats materialise. Wilson Sossion, Knut chairman, and David Osiany, the secretary general, said their members would go on strike to force the Government to employ 80,000 more teachers to meet the demand following rise in enrolment.
“We will withdraw teachers from schools very soon because we have persuaded the Government to engage us in negotiations to no avail,” Osiany said. Osiany said teachers were working under harsh conditions yet they were underpaid.