Teachers new push for fresh salary review talks

KUPPET Secretary General Akelo Misori speaking during a press conference at the KUPPET offices in Nairobi on  April 19, 2023. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

A teachers’ union is now pushing for the start of salary review talks just days after President William Ruto announced raise for all public servants.

The government approved a seven to 10 per cent salary increment for civil servants beginning July 1.

“I know there is a proposal by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) for the increase of salaries of different cadres of both civil servants and other public servants,” Ruto said.

“So our teachers, policemen, military space, and those working in government, we have agreed that from tomorrow your salaries will be adjusted between 7 and 10 per cent.”

And in a letter to the teachers’ employer, the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) has now demanded for an urgent meeting to fine tune the pay rise.

Union secretary general Akello Misori wants the meeting convened to reopen the 2021-2025 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) talks that were suspended.

In his letter dated July 3, 2023, Misori wrote to the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) chief executive Dr Nancy Macharia expressing concern on delayed better terms of the agreement.

 ‘‘In light of the President’s pronouncement on Friday, June 30, we wish to request for an urgent meeting to re-open negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement,’’ Misori said.

The union now wants TSC to open discussions that will bring them back to the negotiating table will help craft genuine and improved terms of service for its members.

We would appreciate a meeting at the earliest convenience of the Commission but in any case not later than two weeks of this writing, given the urgency of the teachers’ pay demands,’’ Misori said.

Misori said the meeting is long overdue and will unlock the deal that was shelved two years back by the SRC.

In its letter dated July 4, 2023,  TSC said they are considering the request.

Through the Commission’s legal officer Cavin Anyuor, the commission said:

‘‘We acknowledge receipt of the letter. The Commission is interrogating the issues raised therein and will respond in due course,’’ Anyuor said on behalf of the Commission’s boss.

Speaking to The Standard, Misori said that since the last agreement was rejected on grounds of the SRC directive, nothing stands in their way to get the increment.

‘‘Our proposal included a financial component but the commission beseeched us to consider the advice given by the SRC to freeze on salary reviews of civil servants,’’ Misori said.

Misori further said teachers have suffered for the last two years after they were denied the perks by the government.

‘‘Teachers' gains in the last six years have been ring-fenced in the current CBA which requires urgent review. We must improve the agreement so that we break-even on the demands we had raised,’’ Misori said.

Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (KUSNET) Chairman Peter Sitienei urged the government to pay special attention to teachers in special schools saying they go out of their way in transforming lives of the society.

‘‘The current bargaining system was not built for us. It is not efficient and is too casual. We welcome the opportunity to explore several avenues that will be customised to our circumstances,’’ Sitienei said.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) counterpart Collins Oyuu said the union is pushing for the TSC to make a counter offer to meet teacher’s demands as the country transitions to JSS in the new Competency Based Curriculum.

“We are happy with President William Ruto’s recent pronouncement which will open a window for fresh negotiations. I know we will strike a deal and strengthen the CBA 2021-2025 to be better,’’ Oyuu said.

In the Previous deal which was signed by the three teachers unions, Knut, Kuppet and Kusnet, teachers were seeking a 30 to 70 percent basic salary increment.

TSC on its part had proposed to the SRC to have teachers' basic salary be increased by 16 percent and 32 percent respectively.

However, the teachers suffered a major setback when unions’ officials walked from a meeting with the employer empty-handed after signing the nonmonetary deal granting TSC a major win.

Instead, the three teachers’ unions took up what they termed as a raw deal initially rejected during the first meeting with TSC.

Teachers under government payroll were only guaranteed increased maternity and paternity leave days and promotions for teachers in hardship areas.

Under the 2021-2025 CBA deal, TSC considered transferring couples to schools near each other (if both are teachers) subject to the availability of vacancies.