Relief for candidates as teachers call off strike
The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) yesterday called off a planned national strike ahead of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination, which kicks off next week.
Union’s Secretary General Akello Misori said they had called off the strike to enable the examination proceed smoothly, he, however, asked the government to guarantee security of teachers during the supervision of the examination.
“What we want is the security of teachers who will supervise national examination in conflict areas like Mandera, parts of Rift Valley, especially West Pokot,” said Misori. He further asked the government to beef up security in the Northern frontier counties ahead of the exams.
Addressing the press in Kisumu at the weekend, Misori said it was up to the government to beef up security to address fears raised by some teachers, who have been tasked to invigilate the examination in conflict-prone counties.
The Teachers Service Commission had written to the union’s officials, warning that the planed strike would disrupt the national examinations.
TSC lawyer Calvin Anyuor told the union to rescind the decision, adding that all stakeholders needed to focus on the national exams set to commence next week.
Anyuor said to enable what he termed as a “seamless transition,” Kuppet ought to focus on overseeing smooth conduct of the national exams rather than stoking chaos. He also asked the union to reconsider its plans to down tools over the failure by the commission to review the 2021-2025 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Anyuor said the commission is currently consulting with the relevant Government agencies to review the union’s CBA demands.
He said the 2022 academic year is delicate with two national examinations slated for April and November hence the need for a peaceful atmosphere.
Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha had appealed to the union last week to withdraw its strike notice. Magoha said time was wrong for the union to call for a strike since national examinations were about to commence. Even as Magoha said it was their democratic right to down tools to press for their demands, the CS pleaded with the teachers to suspend the strike notice until the examinations have been done and marked.
Speaking in Ainamoi sub-county, Kericho county when he commissioned a Competency-Based Curriculum classroom last week, the CS said the government is out to ensure examinations are done in conducive environment without any disruption.
“Our children are not like chess pieces to be played around with. So we are pleading with Kuppet officials to withdraw the strike notice immediately and let our candidates do examinations in a conducive environment without any disruption,” Magoha stated. He, however, urged TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia to engage the union with a view to ironing their issues amicably.
Kuppet had written to TSC last week urging it to review the CBA given that the economy was on a recovery path. “As the commission is well aware, the consequences of the remaining options may be dire,” Misori said in a letter dated February 22.
Yesterday, the union called off the strike, with Misori saying they have consulted widely with the Government and that there was no cause for alarm at the moment.
“We have been assured that the issues raised are under consideration and we are giving the State ample time to address our issues before we talk again,” he said.
The union wants TSC to revise the 2021-25 CBA with a view to effecting a 30 to 70 percent salary increment.
This, if done, will see the basic salary for the lowest-paid teacher increase from Sh34,955 to Sh59,425 and the highest-paid rise from Sh118,242 to Sh153,715.
Union also wants TSC to increase the commuter allowance to Sh 8,500 and Sh 20,800 for the lowest and highest paid teachers, from Sh5,000 and Sh16,000.
Other payments that the union seeks TSC to review are hardship and house allowances, especially for those deployed in conflict prone zones.
They propose a 50 per cent increment of hardship allowance, which will see the lowest-paid teacher earn Sh16,350 and the highest-paid get Sh57,150 from Sh10,900. And speaking in Kiambu yesterday, Magoha told the union to engage TSC in talks over the labour dispute.
“I have already pronounced my position on the issue and I do not think teachers will heed the strike notice. The union should hold talks with TSC which has unfettered independent powers,” said the CS said while inspecting ongoing construction of Competency-Based Curriculum classrooms at Thika Girls Karibaribi Secondary School in Kiambu.