NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19 – The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has now warned that it will take disciplinary action against teachers who participated in Monday’s countrywide strike.
TSC Secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni set in motion the process of identifying those who boycotted work by ordering all principals in primary schools to undertake a head-count of teachers present at their work stations, and relay the information through the provincial, district and municipal education officers within two days.
“The Commission is in the process of drafting show-cause letters to be served to striking teachers as the disciplinary action starts,” Mr Lengoiboni said in a statement sent to newsrooms on Monday evening.
Mr Lengoiboni insisted that the strike that began on Monday morning was illegal and in contravention of Section 80 of the Labour Relations Act of 2007.
“Learning in secondary schools and tertiary institutions is going on un-interrupted. However normal learning in public primary schools has been paralysed,” Mr Lengoiboni acknowledged in his statement.
But in a quick rejoinder, the Secretary General of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Lawrence Majali dismissed the head-count order and said that the union would not be cowed.
“They have always told them (head teachers) to take the head-count but there are no teachers in the schools. Unless the head teachers cheat,” the SG told Capital News on phone. “This is just a gimmick to imply that there are teachers in schools but there are no teachers.”
Mr Majali said the strike had been successful and vowed that it would continue until the government gave in.
But in their statement, the teachers’ employer warned the defiant teachers against their actions: “Any teacher who contravenes the same is liable to disciplinary action and not entitled to any salary or any other benefits.”
The union defied a court order issued on Saturday and pleas from Education Minister Sam Ongeri over the weekend by mobilising its members for the strike. By midday on Monday, most of the pupils in city schools had gone home after sitting idle for most of the day.
The teachers are demanding a lump sum payment of Sh19 billion worth of pay increases, but the government has said it can only afford Sh17.3 billion, which it is willing to pay over a three-year period.
Mr Majali however gave indication that they were willing to enter into fresh talks with the government.
“We have been in touch with government and even this morning (Monday) we were supposed to make contact, but it appears there is a change of heart. We believe they will still contact us so that we can continue with dialogue,” he said in the interview.
The government has already instructed the police to provide security to teachers who report for duty.