By RAWLINGS OTIENO and LONAH KIBET
Teachers can now sit easy, happy that none of them will be sacked, and their pay has finally been harmonised with what the rest of public workforce earns.
But there is a delicate matter left out — the deal only covered harmonization, but the 300 per cent wage increase Knut sought and the 100 pay rise demanded by Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) was probably left for another day, as no mention was made of them.
News of the deal finally squeezed from the Government through the coercive action of a national strike, was a relief to four groups.
For teachers, the risk they took bore fruit since they neither lost their jobs nor missed their salaries as government had threatened.
Parents and children will be happy for schools to reopen, and especially candidates so they can resume their exam preparations as fast as possible.
Finally, Government bureaucrats and ministers who were on the edges of their seats, gritting the teeth and not knowing if they would be forced to take responsibility for the strike and even postpone the exams.
The strike that paralysed learning in public schools as those in private institutions progressed uninterrupted, yet candidates in the two groups will finally sit the same examinations, ended when Government through Finance Minister Njeru Githae threw in the towel.
Brokering the deal for government was Githae because teacher unions vowed never to sit with Education minister Mutula Kilonzo after he dismissed their demands as ‘nonsense’.
When the rest of the country was aggrieved by the fact the President left for the US with teachers and doctors still on strike — to be followed on October 1 by nurses — it was the best Sunday gift ever for parents to learn that a deal had been struck.
It was simple really; the two sides had agreed on Sh13.5 billion, but the Government insisted it would be paid in two tranches while the Knut insisted it must come to its members as a lump sum.
In his new genteel mood, Githae hurriedly convened a meeting, away from his office, at the fabulous Tribe Hotel in Gigiri. It was after the closed-door meeting at the hotel that Githae emerged with the Knut officials to announce they had agreed on a lump sum payoff that will see teachers salaries harmonised with those of civil servants with effect from July 1, 2012, which means teachers have something else to look to — arrears!