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‘We will remit housing tax if CBA is reviewed’

Irene Githinji @gitshee

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) yesterday said it will only remit the affordable housing taxation if their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the government is re-negotiated to allow a nine per cent salary rise.

Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion said the government’s proposed low-cost housing scheme is unconstitutional as the process has not gone through proper public consultation. He said the housing fund deduction will further burden an already strained taxpayer.

In the proposed scheme anchored in President Uhuru Kenyatta’a Big Four agenda pillar on affordable housing, workers will part with 1.5 per cent of their gross salary. Their employers will be required to pay a similar amount to the National Housing Development Fund.

Sossion questioned how the programme will be managed since the Housing Fund has not been legislated, even as he insisted on a tripartite consultation between Teachers Service Commission (TSC), the union and government.

“Our recommendation is very simple: If we are to support the housing tax, let us go back and review the CBA so that we can compensate for the 1.5 per cent through enhanced salaries,” he said during Knut annual delegates conference at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, yesterday.

However, he affirmed that the union is not opposed to any new project saying it would be encouraging to see teachers living in decent houses across the country but said programmes should be rolled out through consultation.

Sossion said the government should also look at financial feasibility of programmes and capability of workers to sustain them.

Attempts by Housing Principal secretary Charle Mwaura to explain the housing concept were futile as hundreds of teachers shouted him down and no amount of Sossion’s intervention helped.

“So give teachers a salary rise of nine per cent straight and revise the CBA and we shall roll out both programmes…that is the international procedure and requirement. You cannot sit in government and look at the payroll of workers and design a formula of getting resources from workers to go and finance projects,” said Sossion.

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