By Augustine Oduor and Isaiah Lucheli
A high-level meeting at the Teachers Service Commission again failed to end the weeklong strike, even as the Industrial Court ordered teachers to return to class.
The talks collapsed after the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) failed to recognise a legal notice of 2003 that substantially amended how teachers were to be paid their allowances, which were negotiated in 1997.
This means that teachers’ allowances as was agreed under the Legal Notice 534, were then to be pegged on job groups and workstations, as opposed to the initial arrangement where teachers drew allowances based on their salaries.
But Education Permanent Secretary, George Godia, said they have made good progress by isolating issues. Prof Godia said the TSC and Ministry of Education would continue with negotiations throughout the weekend.
The Standard On Saturday has established that the amendment to factor in job groups and workstations were necessary because teachers’ salaries had been reviewed, and it was not rational for them to continue drawing allowances based on salaries.
This amendment was made through Legal Notice no 16 of 2003, but Knut is said to have declined to recognise it, causing the stalemate on Friday.
“Knut wants teachers’ allowances, especially house allowances, pegged on half the teachers’ basic pay,” said a source at the meeting.
The difference between the Government and Knut on this issue was so dire that Solicitor-General Wanjuki Muchemi had to be pulled into the talks.
But Knut, led by national chairman Wilson Sossion, declined to recognise the gazette notice, saying they (current officials) were not party to the agreement. But the Government side maintained that the legal notice must be respected.
The meeting that lasted over seven hours took a break to allow for independent consultations between the Government side and union officials.
The Government maintains TSC had settled salary increments as per the 1997 agreement. The Government also said payment of allowances as amended in 2003, had been done, faulting Knut’s demands.