The two giant teachers unions, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) have set terms in the salary review talks.
The unions are demanding a pay rise if their salaries are going to be deducted to factor in the proposed Housing Levy.
The teachers say they want their existing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) 2021 – 2025 to be reviewed to factor in the salary increment.
Knut has proposed a 60% salary increment while Kuppet wants 42% salary increment for teachers to be paid in July.
Knut Secretary General Collins Oyuu and Kuppet Deputy National Treasurer Ronald Tonui said there is need to open the existing CBA to allow a pay rise to cushion the teachers if the proposed 3 per cent housing levy sails through.
“A teacher’s pay slip is already leaking and cannot support any further deduction, with the new proposed housing levy on the cards, we are making demands for a pay review for teachers so that they can get cushioned from the plans,” said Oyuu.
Tonui said the inflation rate had affected the teachers’ purchasing power and that introducing a new levy will only make life more difficult.
He said Kuppet has tabled a proposal and that there was no shortcut out of the situation other than the re-opening of the 2021-2025 CBA signed with TSC to pave the way for new negotiation.
The union leaders said this at the Knut Bomet branch AGM on Sunday that was attended by Knut National Executive Council Members led by Bomet Branch Executive Secretary Malel Lanagat, Eliud Ombori, Kasimba Ngui, Francis Bundotich, Lucy Machuki, Alex Dunga, Bonvas Tenai, and Alice Bor, who shared the Secretary General’s sentiments.
Also present during the ceremony were Bomet Senator Hillary Sigei, former Governor Isaac Ruto, Kuppet Bomet Branch Executive Secretary Paul Kimetto and Bomet County Executive Committee member in charge of education Agnes Ruto.
Tonui said while they support the government initiative, they were afraid it may affect teachers’ livelihood negatively and eventually affect academic performance. He decried how the government had rushed into the proposal, demanding fresh consultation and public participation to forestall a stalemate.
“Talks should be opened so that there is a smooth way of implementing the proposal, but if the government moves without allowing talks, then I am afraid it may create friction with workers,” said Tonui.
He added: “It is our advice as teachers that we should open talks and negotiate a way from the proposal for a 3 per cent levy.”
He said the levy favours those with huge pay and will badly affect the workers with low wages adding that the workers will carry the burden at the expense of state officers.
Tonui said the levy should be harmonised, so that every worker equally contributes to the scheme and enjoys equal benefits.
Oyuu, who was the chief guest, said while they do not have plans to confront the government, they have already written proposals to demand a pay rise in the wake of the new levy.
Oyuu said “it is not going to be business as usual” without the increase, and asked the government through the Teachers service commission to put in place plans to award pay rise for teachers.
“We may not be in a confrontation in our quest, but the government should know that we are not buying into the new levy at all, and they should open up a hybrid avenue for talks,” added Oyuu.
Senator Sigei asked the teachers’ union officials to engage the Kenya Kwanza in talks over the levy, saying there was still room as a committee from parliament, was moving around the country collecting views from members of the public.
“Kenya Kwanza is a listening government, it is open for talks, and there is still room for talks even in the ongoing talks over the proposals in the finance bill,” Senator Sigei said.
He said teachers should not panic but should put forward their proposals into the bill as they push for a salary increase.
The teachers became the latest workforce in the country to voice their concerns over the cost of living and punitive taxes and levies being introduced.
Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union have been vocal on the new housing levy and have threatened to down tools if passed in Parliament.
KMPDU Secretary General Davji Atella, who has been vocal on the matter, said the levy is meant to milk the medical workers dry despite their cry for better pay falling on deaf ears.
Ruto said the poverty levels in the villages were worrying and asked the government to devise ways to tackle the situation.
He said there was a need to insist on Kenyans learning to depend on their production to reduce over-dependence support from the government.
Ruto said lack of employment was biting hard, saying for the government to move forward smoothly should devise ways of creating jobs for many youths, who are languishing in the villages and waiting for the government for food.