Kenyan’s Supreme Court has ordered the government to give teachers a pay increase of 50 to 60 per cent costing the government 14 billion Kenyan shillings or 135 million dollars.
The Kenyan government has requested a reversal on this decision on the basis that it simply does not have this kind of money.
In this legal battle, the lower courts discovered that Kenyan teacher’s salaries were below the consumer price index which greatly influenced the ruling. However, according to Kwame Owino, CEO of Institute of Economic Affairs, on a comparative scale in the East Africa region, “Kenyan teachers are the best paid by far.”
Owino says, a collective bargaining agreement between the government and teacher had been entered into almost ten years ago. “The government kept pushing the ball here and there without necessarily making decision on that.”
The teacher’s union has over 300 members which makes it formidable. “They know how to time their strikes, and when it does that, before national examinations, parents and everyone else panics and puts pressure on the government,”he said.
Owino said there is a level of dishonesty in the government as they have developed a pattern of promising and later rescheduling on their promises.
With this ruling said to be imposed immediately, according to Owino the financing options for this pay hike will have to come from "a supplementary budget, which will be authorised by parliament; they will either raise more taxes… or just debt”.
Owino said The Salaries and Remunerations Committee, for all its legislative power, has not been seen to have authority on these negotiations. “So basically everyone negotiates their salaries outside the framework of the salaries and remunerations committee, which is what the Constitution has provided.”
A suggestion tabled by Owino is that the committee must impose itself as the body that reviews and makes salary determinations or else no union will accept it. “As a matter of fact, it should have been in court as well, to say ‘this is our view on this’."