By Calvin Osiemo
President Uhuru Kenyatta has once again broken his silence over the teachers’ pay row between the Teachers’ employer Teachers Service Commission and teachers unions and has ordered TSC to pay teachers their September salaries as well as award extra allowances to teachers who were on duty during the strike that lasted five weeks. 42,973 teachers are expected to benefit from the allowances.
The directive from the President follows a meeting that was held at State House on Tuesday attended by Deputy President William Ruto, Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi, Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Chair Lydia Nzomo and Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Chair Mudzo Nzili. The President also directed that all suits filed in court by the disputing parties be withdrawn with immediate effect and the involved parties enter into talks for a collective bargaining agreement, a plan that will last for four years.
“Further, we must consider the circumstances of those teachers who reported for duty during September, 2015. In consideration of the circumstances under which they worked in September 2015, I urge TSC to consider paying them appropriate compensation for their extraneous work during that period. All cases filed by parties will be withdrawn from court and negotiations will begin in which a new four-year CBA (collective bargaining agreement) should be agreed on within a month. There is an urgent need to bring all parties together for dialogue. It is time to reconcile and to return to harmony in the education sector,” said the President.
While insisting on the need to come to the dialogue table, the President asked the unions to acknowledge the role of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) when it comes to salaries of public servants in the civil service including teachers. He said the negotiations are intended to bring strikes to an end.
“There must also be full recognition of a basic point: Equal pay for equal work. We are in public service, and we have a duty to manage public funds equitably and effectively. The agreements we have reached will ensure the era of strikes comes to an end,” President Kenyatta said.
KNUT Chair Mudzo Nzili said that the Union will adhere to the resolutions arrived at during the meeting while urging TSC to honor its part as well.
“It is our expectation as a commission that from now on all parties will consider the interests of the child first so that never again should the Kenyan child remain unattended in class when teachers are supposed to be there. As far as this process is concerned, KNUT shall submit to the conditions in the negotiations and I urge TSC to be good here at State House and good in their office because under an atmosphere of peace you do not find any potential for disagreement, ” Nzili said.