Capital FM (Nairobi)

5 July 2013

Kenya: Jail Us If You Dare, KNUT Officials Retort

Photo: hope4africa/Facebook
Teachers union digs in heels as strike enters day 14 (file photo).

Nairobi — The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has said it is not fazed by the contempt of court proceedings filed against its officials, maintaining that it is ready to face the consequences of the ongoing strike.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, KNUT Chairman Wilson Sossion said they are convinced that what they are doing is the right thing and called on Attorney General Githu Muigai to stop misleading the President.

He accused government officials of being poor negotiators and reiterated that they will only go resume work if a tangible offer was made.

"These are simple basic facts about law. How did (Education Secretary Jacob) Kaimenyi on a Friday get to know that the court was going to issue a certain order? How come they knew about certain orders by the weekend?" he posed.

"And by the way, we have never been served with those orders. Let anyone prove otherwise," he claimed.

Acting Secretary General Mudzo Nzili said they will not be intimidated by any scare tactics against them.

"The Attorney General should henceforth cease micro-managing the commission and stick to his role of advising the Executive as indicated in the Constitution," he stated.

"The AG has been the source of all these trouble in the education sector. He has consistently misadvised the government about legal notice 534 of 1997."

He indicated that they will stick it out even if arrest warrants are issued against them.

"And for the first time we are declaring that if any one is interested in arresting us because of championing the issues of teachers, we are here," he dared.

"Änd to the President, who is a friend of the teachers of Kenya, we are saying that we respect you but there are people who are surrounding him that are misleading him."

He further told President Kenyatta that they can only call of the strike if a tangible deal is tabled before them.

Nzili stated that they will only have the power to negotiate if they sustain the mass action.

"When people are on strike, their strength lies in the mass action; today of we say that we are suspending the strike action, then what are we negotiating about?" he pointed out.

"We would like the President to tell TSC to pay us and if he does that, then we will readily come on to the negotiating table."

While observing the good intentions of the President, he said that those advising him should do so in a proper manner.

On Thursday, the government through TSC filed an application seeking to have the teachers union fined Sh20 million for disobeying a court order to call off the ongoing teachers' strike.

In the case, TSC also wants KNUT officials including Chairman Wilson Sossion and acting Secretary General Mudzo Nzili sent to jail for six months.

Earlier, the AG said that such blatant disregard of the law was unacceptable and must be punished as required by law.

Muigai pointed out that the union should first obey the court order and if dissatisfied, should appeal the decision.

The AG who is the government's Chief Legal Advisor said that court orders are there to be obeyed at all times.

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