17 February 2013

Kenya: Teachers Urged to Suspend Strike Planned for Monday

Nairobi — Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli is now urging teachers to suspend the planned strike until after the general election.

Atwoli said the demands made by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) are genuine but can not be addressed by the government whose mandate is expiring next month after the general election.

"There is no substantive government now that will negotiate with the teachers once they go on strike," Atwoli told a news conference on Sunday, opposing the teachers strike planned for Monday.

"The teachers know very well that everybody is out there campaigning, so there is nobody to handle their concerns with the seriousness it deserves," Atwoli warned.

KNUT National Chairman Wilson Sossion on Thursday directed teachers countrywide to boycott teaching from Monday to press the government to pay them their allowances.

Sossion insisted they have no option but to call for the strike because the government has not shown willingness to pay the allowances.

On his part, the COTU Secretary General said that whereas the teachers are raising genuine demands, their timing is wrong as there will be no government to take up the issue.

"We have always, as COTU, supported the teachers and we will continue supporting them, what we are advising is that they change the timing this time," added Atwoli.

Teachers Service Commission (TSC) had earlier in the week termed the planned strike as "premature" and urged KNUT to shelf it and give dialogue a chance.

Acting KNUT Secretary General Xavier Nyamu last week said the Union had given the Commission five days to resolve the matter or else teachers will down tools.

The teachers are demanding to be paid house, medical and commuter allowances.

Last year, the teachers went on strike for nearly a month paralyzing learning in all public schools.

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