Confusion in Knut as Uhuru steps in to end teachers’ pay dispute
The decision was reached yesterday during a meeting at State House involving commissioners of TSC and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) officials to broker a deal on the long-running pay dispute.
President Uhuru said the parties should within one month of the start of the dialogue, “come up with an acceptable Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
TSC chairperson Lydia Nzomo and Knut steering committee members led by union chairman Mudzo Nzili were present, even as Knut Secretary General
Wilson Sossion denied knowledge of any meeting.
“I was not aware of the meeting. I am the holder of the seal of the union and spokesman of the union,” said Mr Sossion, who on Monday said the Trade Union Congress, an umbrella body for trade unions, would campaign against the Jubilee government.
Mr Nzili, however, said: “I was there (State House) with the steering committee and he (Sossion) was aware. We agreed that no teacher will be victimised.”
Asked when he last met the Knut chairman, Sossion said they were together after the Court of Appeal ruling where it was agreed that the union prepares a petition to be filed at the Supreme Court.
“I am waiting for our lawyer to prepare the petition so that I can sign it,” he added.
Nzili was at one point the secretary general of Knut while Sossion was the chairman and they engaged in bitter campaigns in the run-up to the union’s last polls that saw them swap positions after a protracted deal.
A statement from the President released by State House last night said it was agreed that all parties would withdraw all the cases related to the dispute that are pending in courts.
“That further to today’s agreement all matters pertaining to the dispute will be concluded through negotiation. Immediately after the cases are withdrawn, TSC and Knut will meet and begin dialogue,” the statement partly reads.
It went on to note that the talks are to come up with a four-year collective bargaining agreement which will, at a minimum, address the binding advisory by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission on teachers’ pay.
“There must also be full recognition of a basic point: equal pay for equal work. The necessary first step to ending that inequity and ineffectiveness is a job-evaluation exercise, where we determine the level of performance of public officers,” the statement read in part.
TSC had withheld the September pay as a punishment for striking teachers. TSC had for the last three months also stopped deducting the union dues, paralysing operations of over 100 Knut branches countrywide.
“Further, we must consider the circumstances of those teachers who reported for duty during September,2015. In consideration of the circumstances under which they worked in September 2015, I urge TSC to consider paying them appropriate compensation for their extraneous work during that period,” the President directed.
It remains to be seen if Uhuru’s intervention will end the protracted pay dispute that has persisted for years and caused a strike every year for the last nine years.
“It is our expectation as a commission that from now on all parties will consider the interests of the child first so that never again should the Kenyan child remain unattended in class when teachers are supposed to be there,” Nzomo said.
Nzili added: “As far as this process is concerned, Knut shall submit to the conditions in the negotiations and I urge TSC to be good here at State House and good in their office because under an atmosphere of peace you do not find any potential for disagreement,” said Nzili.