How pay deal helped avert teachers' strikes - Daily Nation

Pay deal helped avert work boycotts by school teachers

Monday January 1 2018

Knut secretary-general Wilson Sossion addresses

Knut secretary-general Wilson Sossion addresses participants during the Kenya Primary School Headteachers Association Annual Delegates Conference in Mombasa on December 6, 2017. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By OUMA WANZALA
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The basic education sector remained calm in 2016 and 2017, with no cases of industrial action by teachers.

This enabled learners to study and sit their examinations in a conducive environment.

However, learning at public universities across the country was paralysed three times last year, a move that interfered with their academic calendar.

The quietness witnessed at both primary and secondary schools was as a result of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) signed in October 2016 year and implemented in July 2017.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary-general Wilson Sossion said the struggle for an increase in pay was not easy.

The teachers had demanded a 50 to 60 per cent increase in 2015, which was granted by the Labour court but was later quashed by the Court of Appeal.

FIRST PHASE

Despite the demand, teachers had to contend with Sh54 billion they had been awarded, which was then spread over four years.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) set aside Sh17.3 billion for the salary increase in the first phase.

Consequently, the salary of a teacher in grade B5 increased to Sh19,224 per month while a chief principal in Job Group R (D5) now earns Sh148,360.

Mr Sossion said a lot went into the talks, although teachers did not get what they had wished.

He added that the union and the commission should now work towards having a right to policy dialogue.

DIALOGUE

“We are escalating our engagements to the policy front. We have to protect our rights to policy dialogue as per ILO (International Labour Organisation) recommendations on the status of teachers,” said Mr Sossion.

He went on: “We experienced a lot back-stabbing and inference from the government. We, however, reached a compromise. We would like to sanitise the negotiating table for next CBA.”

However, Mr Sossion is worried about the latest development of “unilateral policies by the Ministry of Education and the TSC, contrary to provisions of the Constitution”, which is likely to result in work boycotts this year.