Government Should Negotiate With the Kenya National Union of Teachers to End Impasse
The Government should negotiate with the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) to end the impasse caused by the teachers strike bearing in mind that national exams for form four and class eight candidates will be held next month. Calls for the teachers to wait for the Salaries Remuneration Commission are misguided because teachers are not categorized as state officers. In the drafting of the new constitution, the teacher’s condition for supporting the draft in the referendum was their exclusion from the commission otherwise they had been prepared to vote against it. The salaries, allowances and terms and conditions of service for Teachers are governed by the Teachers Service Commission Act which was constituted as a Constitutional Commission under Article 237 with power in sub-article 2 (b) “to recruit and employ registered teachers.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission established in article 230 has no jurisdiction over teacher’s salaries. Article 260 clearly defines who a state officer is and teachers are not included. The commission has no mandate in law to reopen agreements made before it came into effect at the promulgation of the new constitution. Article 234 of the Public Service Commission places civil servants under the exclusive mandate of the public service commission while sub-article 3(a) excludes state offices and (c) (iii) “an office or position subject to the teachers service commission as being among those expressly excluded. In the Sixth Schedule, Page 198 (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Part 2 – Existing Obligations and Rights (page 201), 7, (1), provides that “All law in force immediately before the effective date continues in force and shall be construed with the alterations, adaptations, qualifications and exceptions necessary to bring it into conformity with this Constitution.” Therefore, the Government’s argument that the 1997 deal with the teachers has been overtaken by events is misguided. The Government is bound by the agreement and it has no choice but to pay up or negotiate. Claiming that it has no money while there are so many scandals in the Country involving lost billions sounds like a shallow ploy to evade fulfilling its obligation to the teachers.
As much as striking is not the best option since it is the children who are suffering especially those sitting for their final exams, teachers have been taken for a ride for so long and it is time the Government honors its promise to them and solves this problem once and for all. The Government should be serious about how it handles issues and avoid creating problems it can easily avoid.
By Paul Muite
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