“The talks are going on smoothly. We have had very sincere and frank discussions. We have understood their position; and they have understood our position; the gap that still remains is something that we can jump,” he said.
The minister was optimistic the NEC would call off the strike on Saturday. “We want to get a win-win situation for teachers, children in school, and the Government.”
The sticky issue is whether the Sh13.5 billion to harmonise teachers’ salary with those of civil servants should be paid in one installment as Knut demands or spread over 10 months.
With the Government outlawing the contested legal notice no 16 of 534; the only outstanding demand is harmonisation of salaries.
“We have learnt our lessons we are not going to conduct our negotiations in the media, but what I can say is that there is a possibility of our children going to school next week,” Githae said.
TSC Executive Officer Gabriel Lengoiboni said: “The talks are progressing well and we believe that things will go back to normal and children will resume learning as soon as possible.”
Earlier in the day during a meeting of the parliamentary committee on Education, Public Service minister Dalmas Otieno explained revenue constraints made it difficult to pay the amount at once. Otieno, a member of the Cabinet team set up to resolve the dispute, said revenue collection is Sh40 billion below target.
The Finance ministry, he added, will need up to December to monitor revenue collection before deciding which ‘part to chop’ to meet teachers’ demands.
The teachers’ unions were likely to agree to a two-phased payment, but asked for more time to go and consult.
The Government has offered to spread the money in three phases backdated to July, with the last installment payable at the start of the next financial year. Some Sh4.5 billion would be paid in each phase.
Otieno told the committee the first phase would be factored in the October salaries if teachers accept the deal.
Pressed by a committee member MP John Pesa, the minister replied: “This monies will still have to be passed by Parliament. But we believe that the one month between now and when we expect to pay the cash is enough to take care of the disbursement logistics.”