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Uhuru rules out higher pay amid calls for talks

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday night ruled out paying teachers higher salaries, saying that doing so would raise the cost of living.

In a televised address from State House, Nairobi, the President said the government had taken the decision to close all schools to ensure the safety of children and safeguard school property in the wake of the teachers strike that started on September 2.

He also asked teachers to consider the interest of children and return to work and give the relevant constitutional institutions time to handle the pay dispute.

“It is wrong to hold our children hostage to wage demands,” he said and reiterated that working in the public sector was a service.

“I urge all teachers as parents, as public servants and as Kenyans to reconsider the matter and

resume their duties,” said Mr Kenyatta, who was flanked by Deputy President William Ruto.

He also called for “sobriety” and urged teachers’ unions to present themselves truthfully to those who pay their wages. He denied allegations that the salary deal that teachers struck with the government in 1997 had not been paid in full. “This amount has been settled,” he said.

WAGE BILL WORRIES

The public service — which has about 680,000 workers — constitutes 1.5 per cent of the entire population but consumed 52 per of all taxes collected in the last year.

The President said public sector wages consumed Sh568 billion of the Sh1.1 trillion collected as taxes.

If teachers are paid the 50 to 60 per cent raise as ordered by the Court of Appeal, the wage bill would rise from 52 per cent to 61 per cent of all revenue collected, the President said.

According to him, teachers in public schools earn higher salaries compared with their counterparts in private schools yet, private schools perform better. He also said that teachers were paid the same as other public servants in the same job groups.

The salary of a P1 teacher, the lowest-paid, had risen from Sh7,762 in 1997 to Sh23,692 currently. For the highest-paid teacher, the salary rose from Sh35,886 in 1997 to Sh140,089 this year, he said.

Fifty-five per cent of teachers are in jobs J-N and they earn between Sh35,000 to Sh75,000 per month, he added.

Teachers’ salaries are also higher than those of their counterparts in the region. Kenyan teachersearn seven times more than their counterparts in Burundi. In Uganda, the President said, the lowest-earning teacher gets Sh7,600, while in Tanzania, a teacher at the same level earns Sh15,800.

Source: Daily Nation

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