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TSC moves to avert teachers strike

NAIROBI, May 6 – A looming confrontation between the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) over delays in submitting last month’s salaries has cooled off after the union acknowledged receipt of the wages starting Monday.

KNUT however cautioned that future delays would not be taken kindly by the teachers.

The Union’s Secretary General Francis Ng’ang’a said such delays cause anxiety among teachers thus interfering with normal learning in schools.

“Teachers are professional workers and doing a very serious job of taking care of our innocent children, and would not like to be subjected to this kind of mental stress in the future,” he noted.

Following the hold up, Ng’ang’a had threatened to mobilise teachers to a nationwide strike if the salaries were not received by this Wednesday.

However in a statement released by the TSC Secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni last Friday, the commission announced it had released the monies last week.

Lengoiboni attributed the delays to ‘unforeseen circumstances beyond their control.’

The Secretary General confirmed that the salaries began streaming in on Monday and urged teachers to remain calm and continue with their work without interruptions.

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He said: “We have been assured that the money has been put in banks; we are very happy with their support. We are now asking them to continue teaching properly as they quietly get their money with no problem.”

Ng’ang’a also appreciated the TSC for apologising over the delay, but urged them to follow it up with a commitment to pay teachers on time.

“They have said sorry but that apology must be followed by an action, starting with this month, by paying us before the 30th of every month. Otherwise we are ready to fight it out with them,” he said.

The last time such delays were experienced was before 2003 when salaries would be received as late as the 15thday of each month.

Anxiety over the strike was already bringing back chilling memories of the last decade where learning was interrupted in the country following salary disputes between the government and the teachers.

Earlier this year learning was also interrupted in many areas of the country, but this time due to the post election skirmishes.

The developments further come in the wake of disappointments expressed by civil servants on Labour Day last Thursday, after President Mwai Kibaki failed to announce an increase in minimum wages against the backdrop of rising inflation and high living standards.

The President attributed it to the effects of the post election crisis, where fighting over a disputed presidential poll disrupted learning and farming activities across the country.

Last week prison warders downed their tools paralysing operations in many correctional facilities, demanding allowances and also decrying poor working conditions, forcing the government to pay them Sh10,000 in risk allowance.

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Nurses and forest guards have also threatened to down their tools soon if their demands for increased allowances and better working conditions are not met.

Finance Minister Amos Kimunya last week tabled a motion in Parliament for a supplementary budget asking for an additional Sh22 billion to meet the cost of the expanded government and reconstruction of infrastructure.

Kimunya has continually defended the performance of the economy and tax collections, although the recent developments and the President’s utterances could be a revelation of the effects of the skirmishes on the economy.

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