10 September 2012

Kenya: Teachers Defy Court, Say Strike Goes On

TEACHERS yesterday declared they will continue their strike after they failed to reach a deal on their salary demands. They described a court ruling declaring their strike illegal as "intimidation".

Kenya National Union of Teachers national chairman Wilson Sossion said the union had not been served with any court documents declaring the strike illegal.

Knut appeared to state the court orders are reactionary, saying they have been procured in bad faith. "They have been obtained after the expiry of of the strike notice was issued to the Teachers Service Commission," said the union.

The union asked teachers not to return to class since the strike can only be called off by Knut secretary general David Okuta. The strike enters its second week today. "There is nothing tangible that has been offered by government since the negotiations started on Wednesday," Sossion said.

He added: "Teachers should not be intimidated by anybody. The first week of the strike was just a rehearsal, this second week is the week for action and intense but peaceful activity for striking teachers until they achieve what they are fighting for."

Acting Knut secretary general Xavier Nyamu asked teachers to report to their respective branches for prayers and roll call. This goes against the TSC directive for teachers to report to schools for roll call.

Knut has told the TSC and Education minister Mutula Kilonzo that during a strike members don't take instructions from any other quarters except the union. Nyamu said the minister was issuing inflammatory directives triggering teachers' anger.

The union also warned police not to carry out unconstitutional action against teachers. "The police should instead provide security to striking teachers wherever they will be," Nyamu said.

Teachers maintained that salary harmonisation in line with other civil servants, a 300 per cent increment and allowances under Legal Notice 534 of 1997 must be implemented.

Legal Notice 16 of 2003, which the government claims has amendments on the earlier one does not hold, teachers said. We don't know about the amendment notice, it is questionable, Sossion said. Teachers asked the government to use Sh106 billion returned to Treasury to pay them. Kenya Union of Post Primary Education boss Akello Misori said the government is "not serious".

Speaking at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi yesterday Misori asked teachers to stay away from schools. ACK Archibishop Eliud Wabukala called for dialogue to resolve the strike. "Tolerance and justice should be practised for the sake of our children especially the candidates," he said. Wabukala also asked the government to resolve the doctors salary dispute. "We cannot afford to have teachers and doctors services paralysed, there is need for dialogue."

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