Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: Trade Union Official Raps State for Teachers' Sack Threats

Photo: Capital FM
kenya students in class, the three week strike by teachers demanding salary increase affected the education system. (File Photo)

Nairobi — The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) has criticised the government for issuing threats to sack striking teachers arguing that such a decision would have far reaching effects.

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli said should the government sack teachers; this would paint a bad picture internationally.

He stated that teachers have a right to demand better pay and urged President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to step up their efforts in solving the stand-off which has seen public schools closed for three weeks.

"Our salary cannot take us up to the end of the month... your children are crying that they have not gone to school," he said.

"We live in communal houses where the son or daughter of someone who has been paid walks by your child with meat. He (your child) then comes to you and asks you why you are not eating meat, it is only 'mboga' everyday!"

Atwoli further called on the government to stop issuing threats but instead to work with teachers as partners.

"This is a joke from the government. The Cabinet should never issue such threats in today's world. If you try to sack teachers, Kenya will not be accepted anywhere in the world," he argued.

"We live in communal houses where the son or daughter of someone who has been paid walks by your child with meat. He (your child) then comes to you and asks you why you are not eating meat, it is only 'mboga' everyday!"

The government on Thursday threatened to sack and replace striking teachers and doctors if they fail to return to work immediately.

The Cabinet which met at State House Nairobi directed the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union to adhere to court orders that ruled that they should return to work.

"The Ministry of Medical Services will undertake emergency recruitment to fill the gaps created by striking doctors. It will facilitate dialogue and the resumption of duty by those doctors," a statement from the Presidential Press Service said.

The Cabinet also said it will introduce a Bill that will protect the right to life in case of future doctors' strikes.

"The provision of medical services was a right enshrined under the Constitution. The government will introduce a Bill to ring-fence the provision of essential services against future strikes that compromise the right to life," the Cabinet said.

It further discussed the offer of Sh1.9 billion approved in Phase II of extraneous allowances to medical officers in the Ministries of Medical Services and Health, Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

During the meeting chaired by President Mwai Kibaki it was also agreed that the government will hire 100,000 new teachers and reabsorb retired ones under the age of 65, should current ones maintain their strike.

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