Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kenya teachers in new pay rise demand

By PETER MWAI

Teachers have made new salary demands and dismissed the pay raise scheduled to take effect in July. They threatened industrial action if the government failed to implement two remaining phases of their salary increment in July.

If their threat, issued on Wednesday, is effected, it will coincide with the referendum on the proposed constitution, which will be held on August 4. Kenya National Union of Teachers officials want the government to implement two remaining phases of a salary raise they got last year at once.

The Teachers Service Commission secretary, Mr Gabriel Lengoiboni, has released a circular showing that the least paid teacher will receive Sh13,037 per month, up from Sh11,611 starting July. The highest paid will receive Sh105,214, up from Sh75,102.

But on Wednesday, Knut secretary general Lawrence Majali said the economy had improved and could support the payment of the remaining 60 per cent of their raise in July. If adopted, the 60 per cent increase means that the least paid teacher would receive Sh13,750 and the highest Sh120,270.

Teachers rejected a recent offer by the government to increase their salaries by 40 per cent. Mr Majali said the agreement signed last year had a rider that the two remaining phases would be paid at once if the economy improved. The increment was agreed upon after teachers staged a nationwide strike in January last year.

The first phase involved a 40 percent increment last July. “Our understanding was that phase two would be 60 per cent of the negotiated package,” he said. Last week’s TSC circular outlined the 40 per cent salary increase, that is the second phase. The balance will be cleared next year.

But, Mr Majali said the only condition for not implementing the increment in two phases was if Kenya’s economy failed to improve in 2009. In this case, the government would have implemented a 40 per cent increase in July, with the remaining 20 per cent implemented in 2011.

He said teachers half-heartedly agreed to the condition on the understanding that the economy was yet to recover from post-election violence and the drought. “No one can deny that the economy has improved,” he told a media conference at Knut headquarters, Nairobi.

He said, a denial by the government was tantamount to provoking teachers and they “will not take it kindly”. “We demand that TSC revise the implementation tables upwards.” The union called on teachers to be ready for “anything” if by the end of July, they will not have received the increment.

“We appeal to our members to do some saving. If push comes to shove, we will be there,” he said. The teachers further took issue with TSC’s decision to suspend their study leave.

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