Irrespective of how the cabinet sub-committee responds, the government’s commitment to a fair remuneration in the public service has been impeached. Many times before and during this strike, relevant officials dismissed our demands while implementing pay increases for other cadres in contravention of an understanding between government and our union that pending pay disputes would be addressed under a framework and legislation to be developed by the Salaries Commission.
In a vain attempt to intimidate unions, the government has orchestrated a number of legal suits on this strike, which only impinges its resolve to negotiate. Like the many sub-committees being created to address ordinary government business, the suits are completely counterproductive, projecting a yawning leadership vacuum and bureaucratic fatigue.
In fact, the very reason teachers went on strike is this lack of leadership. For more than two years, Kuppet and Knut had engaged the government on the same issues it is now trying to address through a committee. We entered into understandings, in January 2009 and September 2011, which the Ministry of Public Service later dishonoured.
Both times, as now, teachers gave in to the government’s request for more time and consultation with its various arms. These are the same requests the government has put on the table, although for good measure the Ministry of Finance, which was a party to the agreements, has flatly declined to meet teachers this time.
-Writer is Secretary General of KUPPET.