17 February 2013

Kenya: Teachers Strike Planned for Monday Called Off

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) announced on Sunday that it had called off the teachers strike that was scheduled to start on Monday.

The union's Secretary General Xavier Nyamu told Capital FM News that they called off the strike after talks with Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo who assured them that fresh talks will be initiated over the teachers' allowances.

"The minister has now assured us that he will initiate the talks aimed at having legal notice 16 repealed," he said. "That is what had blocked the teachers' allowances."

"The strike is now suspended," he said.

Earlier on Sunday, COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli urged the teachers to suspend the strike because it was likely to affect the learning time table.

"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 that was 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.

Teachers had been directed to boycott teaching from Monday to press the government to pay them their allowances.

On his part, the COTU Secretary General said that whereas the teachers were raising genuine demands, their timing was 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.

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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