By Standard Reporter
NAIROBI; KENYA: The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has called of teachers’ strike hours after the Government had closed primary schools indefinitely.
This is after Knut agreed a pay deal with the Government on Wednesday after a meeting with the Deputy President William Ruto.
Ruto had told teacher’s body that the Government’s offer on allowances will not be improved and there was no funds to meet their demands of paying commuter allowance in one tranche.
“The deal you have been given by the Teachers Service Commission on commuter allowance cannot be added or reduced…we are operating within a very tight budget,” Mr Ruto said.
The Deputy President also said the Government will only engage teachers in negotiations that are guided by the Constitution.
“The Government cannot enter into any negotiations that are not guided by law…that will be cheating you,” he said.
“We want to negotiate in a structured manner so that the agreement is honoured irrespective who is in office,” the Deputy President added.
KNUT officials led by chairman Wilson Sossion and acting secretary general Mudzo Nzili had paid a courtesy call on the Deputy President where they indicated their willingness to call off the strike. Eight other officials accompanied them.
However, they requested that the Government withdraws the contempt of court case against the two officials. The two risk a jail term of six months and/or fine of Sh20 million.
Demands for house and medical allowances will be negotiated through the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) although the Government has indicated that it will put teachers on a National Hospital Insurance Fund Scheme.
The Deputy President said the Attorney General was the only person mandated to handle the court case issue.
The Government has offered teachers Sh2, 900 for the lowest earning teacher and Sh11, 000 for the highest earning in commuter allowance to be paid in two phases.
During the meeting the KNUT officials said they respected the Government’s offer.
“Whatever has a beginning must have an end…this is our country and we must work together and get things moving,” Mr Sossion said during the meeting attended by Education Principal Secretary Kipsang Belio.
Mr Nzili added: “We will negotiate medical allowance at a later stage…but we have a court case which can ruin us on Monday please we would like the Government to intervene.”
The Deputy President said although teachers have the right to pursue their demands, it must be within the law.
The KNUT officials also asked the Government to re-open schools.