Nairobi — The nationwide teachers strike entered its second week on Monday with no end in sight as teachers heeded a call by their unions not to resume classes despite President Mwai Kibaki calling for a speedy resolution of the stalemate.
President Kibaki who was in Nakuru County during a public baraza at Moi Secondary School, called on public servants to be sensitive to the current economic conditions facing the country and be reasonable in their demands while giving dialogue a chance in resolving industrial disputes.
The president said; "Let us be reasonable in our demands and always give dialogue a chance in resolving any misunderstandings that may arise."
President Kibaki made the remarks after laying the foundation stone for the proposed Trauma Centre at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital.
He called for speedy conclusion to the ongoing negotiations between the government and public servants so as to enable students resume studies and also avoid further disruptions to the delivery of medical services.
With both the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) remaining defiant, teachers were left with little to do than protest on the streets of Nairobi .
They met at the KNUT headquarters and insisted that only money will take them back to schools.
Hebson Otieno who is KNUT's Executive Secretary in Nairobi County led the teachers in protests around the city and maintained that they would only resume duty after their demands are met.
"We are not reporting to schools for the roll call as directed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC); we will do ours here at our offices," he declared.
Otieno accused the Treasury of being a stumbling block in the negotiations by refusing to commit to meeting the teachers demands that were agreed upon 15 years ago.
"(Gabriel) Lengoiboni (TSC Secretary) does not have a problem with us, the person who has problems with us the minister Njeru Githae who told us that we can eat rats," Otieno insisted, referring to the Finance Minister.
Last week, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) through Secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni warned that they would withhold salaries of teachers who continue taking part in the strike as well as dues payable to the union.
On Friday, Justice Maureen Onyango of the Industrial Court ruled that the strike was illegal and ordered that teachers resume work.
Separately, the Secretary General of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Francis Atwoli urged President Mwai Kibaki to sack Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo and Githae over their failure to strike a deal with the striking teachers and university lecturers.
Speaking at the Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu when he formally opened a four-day workshop on Inclusive Finance for workers, Atwoli threw his weight behind the industrial action saying their demands are justified.
Atwoli called on President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to quickly convene a meeting with both teachers unions and at the University Academic staff Union (UASU) in a bid to address their concerns.