Knut abandons strike after talks with employer
Kenya: The push for another teachers’ strike collapsed after a giant union failed to prove that 53,000 of its members had not been promoted. Instead, after a day-long meeting in Nairobi, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) agreed to constitute a nine-member team to verify the number of pending promotions.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) maintained that their records indicated that only 6,675 teachers had not been promoted, and noted that the exercise would commence immediately they received the requisite Sh1.03 billion. TSC needs about Sh86 million monthly to cater for the promotions.
Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion said the promotion issue was a “budgetary hitch” and noted that teachers would be happy once it was resolved. The Standard has, however, learnt that the commission requires some Sh2.9 billion to complete the promotion exercise, complete with arrears.
“The commission shall consult with relevant Government agencies with a view to ensuring that the required funds to clear the existing promotion backlog is released,” said TSC Secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni. Of those to be promoted, some 3,519 P1 teachers in Job Group J (diploma holders) are on top of the list.
Another 504 Approved Teachers IV in Job Group J, 1,730 P1 teachers in Job Group K (graduate), 833 Approved Teachers Status (ATS) IV in Job Group K (graduate) and 89 ATS III in Job Group K (graduate) are to be promoted, according to TSC. Sossion said the strike action was no longer feasible after what he termed “candid, honest, exhaustive and detailed consultations” that lasted more than eight hours.
Rash action “How I wish future engagements would be conducted this way so that teachers do not have to go to the streets but concentrate on curriculum delivery,” he said. Sources familiar with the negotiations, however, say Deputy President William Ruto intervened to forestall rash action by the union that would have seen learning in public schools interrupted in the first term of the school year.
Reports indicate that Mr Ruto prevailed on TSC to engage Knut ahead of the union’s Monday meeting. “He called the TSC and asked the teachers employer to engage Knut ahead of their Monday meeting. What the DP did not want was a situation where Knut brought a strike notice to TSC,” said a senior government official.
“It is not clear if he also called Knut officials, who agreed to the Wednesday meeting and deferred their strike notice by two weeks,” he added. During yesterday’s meeting, it was resolved that five officials from TSC and another four from Knut would start the verification process this Friday.
“They will report to us after two weeks and it is on that day that we shall know the correct figures of teachers who have not been promoted,” said Sossion, who instructed all teachers who have pursued various courses to submit their documents to the nearest Knut offices.
“All teachers who have graduated from various institutions of higher learning with accepted qualifications and have submitted them to TSC by today (January 8) should re-submit them to TSC for verification,” said Sossion.
The meeting also resolved that the current schemes of service with regard to promotion of teachers remain in force. “Promotions will not only focus on academic qualifications but also on productivity of individual teachers. You may have the qualifications but your productivity is low,” said Lengoiboni.