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Kenya: Successful conclusion to talks, teachers back at work

EI’s affiliate, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), has confirmed that its national teachers’ strike was called off on 24 September after successful negotiations with the Government.

 

The Government had, until then, maintained that the formerly agreed offer would be paid in three phases and backdated to July 2012, because it could not afford to pay in full. On 22 September, during the KNUT National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, educators categorically refused the offer of phased payments. Held to review the Government’s offer, the NEC declared that the strike would continue for the fourth week running.

Government accepted demands

The Government finally accepted the teachers’ demands on 23 September. It signed an agreement with the union that the offer will be paid in full at the end of October 2012 and be backdated to July 2012.

During the Special NEC meeting held on 24 September, the Government’s acceptance to pay the offer in full was acknowledged. It was then unanimously decided that KNUT should call off the national teachers’ strike, and all teachers were asked to report back to duty on 25 September.

Return-to-work formula

The return-to-work formula included, among other issues:

·         No victimisation following on from the strike. Consequently, withheld teachers’ salaries and allowances must be paid

·         Union dues shall also be paid

·         All cases filed in various courts throughout the country arising from the strike must be withdrawn with no orders as to costs

KNUT further reported that it had put in place mechanisms to negotiate with the employer the remaining demands, to be ready by December 2012 for further implementation in early 2013.

KNUT thankful for international solidarity

KNUT General Secretary David Okuta Osiany wrote to EI saying: “We wish to take this opportunity to thank you all for your overwhelming solidarity and support you gave us during our 21 days’ teachers’ national strike which kicked off on 3 September. The strike was very successful and our teachers remained united and very supportive throughout the strike period. They were never shaken by the Government’s threats that they will be sacked, lose their benefits, etc. for taking part in the strike. They stood their ground and kept on encouraging and urging the union leadership to stay put. The teachers’ bravery kept us going. Even when the Government declared the strike illegal, they did not give up.

“Without your prayers and great support, we could not have managed,” he added. “For this, we once again sincerely thank you and we wish you all the best as you keep on working hard for better terms and conditions of service and other education matters for the teachers you represent in your respective trade unions.”

The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) also welcomed the EI support.

In a message sent on 3 October to EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, KUPPET General Secretary Akelo Mt Misori said:

“Following on a determined teachers’ strike, which began early last month, we finally won part of the battle and got better terms and conditions of service for the teachers we represent. Today, 3 October 2012, we have received a circular implementing the Government’s payment following its commitment to pay according to the collective agreement backdated to 1st July 2012.”

“This commitment has been happily received by Kenyan teachers," he stressed. “Stronger with this commitment our committee will work and come up with other allowances which could not be handled in the short action. We are grateful to the support brought by EI on the issue."

EI: Support for Kenyan colleagues

EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen congratulated EI’s Kenyan colleagues on their achievements and the progress realised so far. “The resilience of KNUT and KUPPET leaders and members finally bore fruit,” he said. “We hope that you will be able to reach agreement on the remaining demands and wish you and your members the very best in your quest to improve the conditions of service and status of teachers and quality education for all in Kenya.”

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