State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu has announced that the Kenya National Union of Teachers told President Uhuru Kenyatta they are "unlikely" to call for industrial action within the next four years after a Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed earlier in the week.
Esipisu said that the statement was made by KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion during a meeting with the President at State House Mombasa this week, which included their employer the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) officials.
"With the signing of the CBA, Kenya has entered into the annals of history as a country that respects the rights of Teachers," Sossion is quoted as having said at the meeting.
The CBA will be used as the basis of talks concerning new pay that will cover an increment in salary that had been opposed by the government last year. The agreement requires both TSC and the unions to begin negotiations for a new CBA beginning July 1. The next CBA is expected to cover July 2017 through June 2021.
The signing of the CBA was the result of a court battle in which children in the public school system lost weeks of classroom time at the beginning of the third term in 2015. Teachers in the country had fought for an increase in pay of 50-60%, which was eventually given to them by the Labor Relations court, writes Olive Burrows for All Africa.
However, the decision made by the court was overturned by the Court of Appeal who decided that the advice given by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission concerning teacher salaries should be observed by the TSC during negotiations between the teacher's unions and TSC.
The Government rejected the salary increment push made by teachers, saying the economy could not support the additional wage bill and that doing so would distort the public service wage structure.
At a separate meeting between the parties held at State House Nairobi, President Kenyatta issued a deadline, at which time he said he needs to see results on the issue. That deadline was set for October in order to have the deal factored into the new budget, coinciding with the election year.
"As you will recall, a few months ago I asked the TSC and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) to sit together as reasonable people and find a way forward in establishing a harmonious relation in the education sector," he said on Wednesday.
The President went on to say that he would support every effort to bring "sanity" to the education sector, adding that he had already pushed for the National Treasury and the Ministry of Education to finish talks that would result in teachers being awarded negotiation perks.
He went on to discuss testing in the country, saying cheating would no longer be tolerated and that new penalties would be implemented. In reference to this, he said no mercy would be given, with a prison sentence of up to 10 years being handed out for those who are caught cheating as well as for those who assist those who cheat.