Talks between the teachers and their employer hit a dead end on August 22, 2023 after the parties failed to agree on a review of salaries.
The meeting ended after union officials refused to sign an agreement prepared by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) that proposed a pay rise of between 2.4 per cent and 9.5 per cent spread over two years.
Teachers were represented by the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (Kusnet).
The unions accused the TSC of deceit, saying, the offer was way below the seven to 10 per cent increase recommended by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) for all civil servants, security forces and teachers. The increment is to be backdated to July 1, 2023.
The TSC proposes to raise the minimum basic salary for the lowest paid teacher at Job Grade B5 by Sh1,037 from the current minimum of Sh21,756 to Sh22,793 in the first year and to Sh23,830 from July next year.
Teachers in this grade would earn a maximum basic salary of Sh28,491 up from the current Sh27,195.
Meanwhile, the highest paid teacher at Job Grade D5 would not have a raise on the Sh131,380 basic pay this year. However, from July next year, this would rise to a minimum of Sh157,656 and a maximum of Sh162,539.
House and commuter allowances remain unchanged except for Cluster 4 which is proposed to be merged into Cluster 3.
That means about 85 per cent of teachers would benefit from increased house allowances.
The increment is also proposed to be over two years, except for Grade B5 which would take effect immediately.
Cluster 1 is for teachers working in Nairobi while Cluster 2 is for Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru cities, Nyeri, Eldoret, Thika, Kisii, Malindi and Kitale municipalities.
Cluster 3 is for other former municipalities while all other areas fall under Cluster 4.
The unions will meet the TSC again on Monday next week, which coincides with the opening day for schools for the Third Term.
The disagreement over the salary increase is significant as candidates prepare for national examinations scheduled for October and November.
Kuppet secretary-general Akello Misori said the union is pushing for a 30 to 70 per cent pay rise while his Knut counterpart Collins Oyuu said the union’s demand is a 60 per cent raise across all the job groups and that the SRC advisory was “just a token”.
The TSC had proposed a 9.5 per cent increment for the lowest earning teacher and 2.4 per cent for the highest grades.
“It’s sad that what the TSC presented is even less than the advisory that the SRC gave. We have given them up to Monday to come up with tangible proposals. Our hopes have been dashed by further mutilation of what we regard as a windfall from the President and the SRC advisory,” said Mr Misori.
The union officials had struck the seven to 10 per cent deal with President Ruto when they met in at State House as he was lobbying for support of the Finance Bill 2023, which he has since signed into law.
Mr Oyuu said the increase was meant to cushion teachers from the harsh economic situation in the country and that the TSC tabled nothing new.
Mr Misori said Kuppet presented its salary increment proposals in 2019 and that the negotiations were meant to commence in 2020 but were disrupted by the pandemic. In July 2021, the unions agreed to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that did not have a monetary component hoping to review it when the economy improved.
“We want to know who’s telling the truth: whether TSC is not aware there was an advisory, whether they’re not aware that the President pronounced himself on this or whether they’re not aware we were prepared for not less than what was offered,” Mr Misori said.
Mr Oyuu said Tuesday’s meeting at the Kenya School of Government had nothing to do with the expected review of the 2021-2025 CBA.
“Knut will not honour anything brought to us by SRC. After all, what’s the essence of negotiation? Legally, the employer cannot present to the unions what is already done by the SRC,” he said.
The SRC had proposed the 10 per cent raise going to the highest earners and seven per cent to the lower cadre.
“The 2017-2021 CBA mainly benefited teachers in administrative positions. We must have a total inversion of the expected seven to 10 per cent, with the lowest earning teacher getting the 9.5 per cent.
SRC must desist from acting as unions. Their duty is to advise, not to negotiate,” he added.