Big relief for retired teachers as Sh16bn pension paid at last

TSC boss Nancy Macharia (left) appears with Legal Director Cavin Anyuor before the Senate Committee on Education

TSC boss Nancy Macharia (left) appears with Legal Director Cavin Anyuor before the Senate Committee on Education over payment of pensions for retired teachers at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi on May 4, 2023. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The government has finally paid retired teachers Sh16.08 billion in delayed pension after over two decades of clamour.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u said the amount is for revised claims from 22,022 teachers who retired between 1998 and 2003.

He said that the ministry has received 23,487 revised claims from the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) for the retirees, who were first awarded enhanced pension emoluments by the High Court in Nakuru on October 28, 2008. The government went to the Court of Appeal but lost the appeal on November 12 2010. It turned to the Supreme Court in 2013 and again lost.

In 2014, the Attorney-General filed another application at the Supreme Court seeking a review of the Court of Appeal decision. In a December 9, 2015 ruling, the Supreme Court declined the application, leaving the government with no option but to pay up. Prof Ndung’u said the remaining 1,465 claims are in the pipeline for payment as they are being processed by the Treasury.

The affected retirees were teachers who did not benefit from enhanced pay following the 1997 deal, but who retired after only benefiting from one of the five phases due to cash crises that had hit the government at the time.

Subsequently, one of the retired teachers, Mr Philip Too, petitioned the Senate over the outstanding claims for teachers who retired between 1997 and 2007, complaining the TSC was yet to pay the retirees, close to 20 years after retirement.

Two weeks ago, TSC shifted the blame to Treasury over the delayed payments, saying they have processed all the necessary documents for the retired teachers.

Appearing before the Senate Education committee at the time, TSC boss Nancy Macharia said the agency had completed and submitted the paperwork to Treasury to effect payments.

Pay agreement

Knut had entered into a pay agreement with the government in 1997 through Legal Notice 534 of 1997. The salary award was to be paid in five phases over a period of five years with the last phase in 2001.

The government implemented only the first phase in 1997. In 2003, the teachers and the government renegotiated and signed a new deal to have the government pay the arrears over 10 years starting in 2003. But, later that year, the two parties agreed to reduce the 10 phases to six, then later five in a 2007 agreement, implemented within a period of six years. A court battle ensued, dragging on until the government exhausted all judicial avenues.

However, Prof Ndung’u clarified that the teachers entitled to benefit under the court order are those who retired without earning their respective salary awards as per the phases contained in the agreement.

He said any teacher who retired after July 2003 earned their respective phases and their pension benefits were correctly paid.

Meanwhile, Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary-General Akelo Misori has urged MPs to compel Treasury to fast-track the payments.

Knut Secretary-General Collins Oyuu lamented that the retirees have been subjected to the indignity of being perpetual paupers despite the National Assembly approving the allocation of resources to the Treasury to address the teachers’ plight.

He said that, during the budget of the financial year ended June 2012, the government allocated Sh3.3 billion towards the affected teachers’ benefit.