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Knut targets Sh54b laptop cash for pay

By Rawlings Otieno | Published Thu, June 20th 2013 at 00:00, Updated June 19th 2013 at 21:32 GMT +3

By Rawlings Otieno

Nairobi, Kenya: The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) wants Sh54 billion set aside to finance the Jubilee pledge of laptops for primary school pupils diverted to pay teachers’ allowances.

Knut warned of a nationwide paralysis of public schools next week if the government does not provide Sh47 billion required to pay teachers’ allowances contested since 1997.

Chairman Wilson Sossion demanded that the laptop billions be used to fi nance harmonization of teachers’ house, medical and commuter allowances.

“If the government can allocate Sh53.6 billion to fund the laptop project (for the next three years), then they can also finance the harmonised allowances for teachers,” Sossion told a press briefing in Nairobi Wednesday.

He described the Sh4 billion Parliament slashed from other State agencies and set aside for teachers’ welfare as a “joke” saying the strike is inevitable.

If the more than 200, 000 members of Knut down their tools the public sector could be thrown into turmoil in the early days of President Kenyatta’s administration.

Wednesday, Kenyatta National Hospital employees downed their tools over pay, joining secondary school teachers and civil servants who are agitating for higher perks. 

Sossion added that teachers require Sh47 billion to have their house, commuter and medical allowances harmonised.  Knut wants the Government to honour their signed Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA) of 1997 before the end of this month.

Four-year cycle

This is because Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) had earlier warned that if all CBAs are not implemented by June 30, then they will be treated as null and void. SRC wrote to various civil servants’ unions that all current CBAs expire at the end of this month to allow for new CBAs with a four-year review cycle.

Sossion accused the State of engaging in theatrics and connivance. He further pointed an accusing finger at the Government for allegedly using a separate union to diffuse the agenda.

“We are seeing machinations and theatrics by the Government. What we are asking for is money or we stay out of classrooms until the money is paid in full. The money allocated for purchase of laptops should be transferred to teachers,” said Sossion.

According to Sossion, the Government is using its rival, Kuppet, to frustrate its course.

He said the Treasury must transfer tutors’ Sh47 billion allowances to the Teachers Service Commission within ten days from today failure to which they will down their tools. And should the Government yield to this demand, then the budgetary allocation for laptops would only be left with Sh8.3 billion to implement the Jubilee manifesto.

“If the State can allocate Sh53.6 billion to fund the laptop project, then they can also finance the harmonised allowances for teachers. We are not opposed to laptops but want the Government not to substitute teachers with the laptops,” warned Sossion.