18 February 2013

Kenya: Teachers Strike On Hold As KNUT, Mutula Agree

THE Kenya National Union of Teachers yesterday suspended the strike set for Tuesday after Education minister Mutula Kilonzo agreed to start a process of paying allowances.

The Teachers Service Commission reached an agreement with Mutula in Machakos yesterday that he will degazette legal notice 16 of 2003 as the first step towards implementing the allowances payout.

"We have been meeting with government since Saturday in Machakos. The union has informed its top organ about the development and the decision to suspend the strike has been voted for," Knut chairman Wilson Sossoin said.

He dismiss rumours that Knut had talked to various presidential candidates over the matter. "We will always talk to the Minister for Education and the TSC, not anybody else."

Knut accused the government of being reluctant to uphold a parliamentary committee ruling to have medical, house and commuter allowances paid to teachers.

The union had by yesterday come under under stinging criticism for instigating the strike from various quarters. Last week Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musoka were among the first to call on the union not to strike.

The two said the timing was wrong because of the impending elections and pledged to deal with the matter if the Cord coalition wins the poll.

TSC said the strike was ill-timed because the parliamentary committee report on delegated legislation was not final, arguing that parliament needs to discuss the matter.

"The Minister for Education did not make his presentation before the committee, neither did his labour counterpart, the AG, treasury and the salary commission," TSC chief executive Gabriel Lengoiboni said.

Yesterday, Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli asked Knut to temporarily put the strike on hold. "Ministers in the line ministries of Treasury, Education and Labour are on the campaign trail. Students will suffer for no good reason," Atwoli said.

He added that the strike may not yield a serious commitment at this time because there is no substantive government in place. "The union officials ought to consult former Knut bosses before calling for strikes at such an hour," Atwoli said. Other teachers' unions Kuppet and Kusnet, and a parents' association led by Nathan Barasa also dismissed the strike.

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