The government has moved to avert a potentially long-drawn teachers’ strike that is likely to result in huge disruptions in the academic calendar to the detriment of millions of young learners.
The Ministry of Labour has planned for conciliation meetings between teachers and the Teachers Service Commission to avert a strike that could paralyse learning in state schools next week.
However a statement from TSC that it was nearing completion of the transfer of school heads could throw a spanner in the works.
On Friday, the conciliation committee chaired by Charles Maranga met and released a schedule of activities with the TSC and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut). The other members of the conciliation committee are: Mr Moses Ombokh, Mr Isaiah Kubai,Mr Linus Kariuki, Mr Albert Njeru,Mr Robert Muthanga and Mr Benson Okwaro
And on Saturday, it is set to visit Knut headquarters for a meeting with the union's top leadership in order to get further clarifications on details of the issues under contention. On December 30, the committee will meet with TSC officials.
A joint meeting will be held at the Labour ministry headquarters the following day to debate the contentious points with “an open and objective mind.”
Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani, who has acknowledged receipt of the union’s industrial strike notice on December 19 indicating that the strike would begin on January 2, said the issues to be discussed include promotion of teachers, performance contracting and professional development programmes.
"Once again I urge parties to this dispute to give the conciliation process and dialogue a chance to resolve their differences noting the critical timing and weight of public interest in the matter," said Mr Yattani. Knut has asked its members to boycott work starting January 3 in order to push TSC to rescind some of its policies towards teachers which it terms as unfair.
TSC chief executive officer Nancy Macharia has said they are ready for talks but criticised Knut for calling the strike yet the issues under contention are under a conciliation process.
Ms Macharia spoke as the TSC announced that it was nearly concluding the transfer of head teachers. TSC announced that by yesterday, 2,750 of the 3,094 head teachers’ transfers had been effected.
“It is expected that the entire handing over exercise will be completed by December 31, 2018 in readiness for the beginning of 1st term on January 3, 2019,” said the commission’s head of communication Kihumba Kamotho.
Those affected by the transfers are head teachers of primary and secondary schools who have stayed in one station for more than nine years.
Mr Kamotho defended one of its biggest human resource movements saying it is meant to fill vacant positions following the retirement of some heads of institutions in the last three months.
TSC also cited the need to strengthen management of some schools following recommendations from standards and assessments reports as well as to provide new working environments for those who have worked for long in respective schools.
But Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion has insisted that the work boycott will go on unless the commission stops implementation of the policies.