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How agreement to increase pay was crafted 16 years ago

Thursday June 27 2013

Former Education minister Joseph Kamotho during a past press conference on January 23, 2013. Photo/FILE/SALATON NJAU

Former Education minister Joseph Kamotho during a past press conference on January 23, 2013. Photo/FILE/SALATON NJAU NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BENJAMIN MUINDI [email protected]

Sixteen years ago, the then President Daniel arap Moi, gave in to the demands of striking teachers.

It was on Moi Day - October 10, 1997 - and teachers had been on the streets for 12 days, crippling learning in public schools.

There were demonstrations across the country with teachers torching effigies of then Education minister Joseph Kamotho.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) under the late Ambrose Adongo, staged demonstrations that resulted to the death of a teacher in Kisumu after he was knocked down by a vehicle as they protested.

President Moi could not take any more of the protests and especially close to a General Election.

The former Head of State was seeking a re-election and thus ordered government mandarins to sit and agree with the demands of the teachers.

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This culminated in the signing of the agreement – the Legal Notice 534 of 1997.

The agreement was signed by Mr Phares Kuindwa (then Head of Public Service), Mr Simeon Lesirma (then Treasury PS) and Justice Aaron Ringera (then solicitor-general).

Teachers were represented by Mr John Katumanga (then Knut chairman), Mr Adongo (secretary-general) and treasurer John Bosco Mboga.

In the agreement, teachers’ salaries were to be raised at a percentage ranging between 105 to 200 per cent. Then they were offered five allowances; house, medical, responsibility, special, hardship and commuter.

The agreement was to be implemented over a five-year period with effect from July 1, 1997. But this was not to be as only the basic salary increase was implemented with the allowances being left out.

This is what led Knut under the late David Okuta Osiany last year, to declare another strike that lasted for 24 days.

Then, the government signed yet another deal with the union where Sh13.5 billion was paid to increase salaries and offer hardship and commuter allowances backdated to July 1, 2012.

But, there was a caveat: The payment of the remaining allowances as per the 1997 Legal Notice 534 would be subjected to a Parliamentary committee for interpretation.

This is because, during the negotiations, the Teachers’ Service Commission produced a document that challenged the validity of the 1997 deal - the Legal Notice 16 of 2003.

The matter was left to the committee on Delegated Legislation on a mutual consent by all parties that its ruling would be accepted and acted upon.