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Parliament set for special sitting to solve teachers strike

13 January 2015, 18:53 William Korir

Nairobi - Parliament is set for a special sitting to debate the ongoing teachers strike if a solution is not found soon.

The parliamentary committee on education said Tuesday that it would convene a special sitting as soon as possible if by Thursday this week, parties in the ongoing strike had not come up with a solution to the current mess.

The committee spoke Tuesday on the eve of an Industrial Court meeting between the parties involved to try force through a solution of some sort in the ongoing stalemate.

The committee termed the Teachers Service Commission TSC, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission SRC, the Kenya National Union of Teachers KNUT and the Post Primary Teachers Union KUPPET as enemies of education and promised quick action if they do not have a solution by Thursday.

" They are enemies of education. This issue has been going on for months and they are yet to find an amicable solution, which is unacceptable," Committee chairperson Sabina Chege said.

She added that pupils are fairing the worst over an issue that could be solved in a matter of hours.

" We need to ensure that however much there are vested interests, pupils remain the sole focus of the talks. At the moment, both sides are fighting for themselves and not education," she added.

The SRC, through chairperson Sarah Serem, says that the demands by teachers are not acceptable and that they are not morally correct.

The SRC further states that teachers are asking for money that is not there at the moment and says that their demands are not feasible.

" The additional KES 225 billion required for salaries by teachers will bring the total government wage bill to KES 893 billion which is unsustainable and will force the country to borrow and increase taxation to survive," Serem said Monday.

Serem added that it had advised the government, through the Teachers Service Commission TSC not to accept terms it says are unfortunate and unsustainable.

" The SRC's mandate is to advise the government on matters that detail salaries and their sustainability and in this case, there has been discussion and consultation prior to any negotiations," she added.

Unions, Kenya National Union of Teachers KNUT and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers KUPPET have brought the SRC to task over their apparent advise to the government on the ongoing pay talks and Serem insists that they have a right to the talks as well as a valid opinion by law.

" It is important to note that the advice given by the Commission is constitutionally mandatory as per Article 259(11). This advice to both levels of government forms the basis of review and entering into collective bargaining agreements," she stated.

The TSC has also insisted that it will not agree to a review of basic pay until job evaluations are done and Serem says that the decision to do so is also inscribed in law.

" The Commission, in exercising its constitutional mandate as articulated in Article 230 (5), advised the public sector to adopt a temporary wage pause on basic salary negotiations and reviews until the job evaluation exercise is concluded," Serem said.

The strike is into its second week, with teachers not budging on their demands following a court order last week that stated their strike is legal and can continue in the meantime.

Teachers want an increase in basic wages, a demand that has been refuted by the TSC and SRC who have first insisted on an eight month long job review. 

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