NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) on Monday ordered striking teachers to immediately report back to work or lose their jobs.
As a show of how real the sacking threat was, the TSC asked all unemployed professionally qualified teachers and all those who had retired within the last seven years and were interested in working on contract terms to register with the nearest zonal educational offices by February 2.
“All teachers who do not resume duty immediately will be deemed to have terminated their contract of service with the Teachers Service Commission,” TSC Secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni said in a statement sent to newsrooms. The statement further instructed striking teachers occupying institutional houses to vacate them immediately or face eviction.
Mr Lengoiboni said that TSC had also withheld salaries for all primary school teachers pending verification of those on duty – which would be released as soon as confirmation was made.
“Pursuant to the court order dated 23rd January 2009 issued by the Industrial Court, the court ordered hat the employer is not obliged to pay wages for the period not worked as provided in section 80 (a) and (b) of the Labour Relations Act 2007,” he said.
The Kenya Union of Teachers (KNUT) failed to appear before the Industrial Court twice last week even after TSC used substituted service through the media. The court declared the strike illegal in the absence of the KNUT officials and authorised the commission to withdraw salaries of striking teachers. In his ruling Justice Isaac Mukunya ordered KNUT to report to the conciliatory commission appointed by Labour Minister John Munyes.
On Sunday, KNUT Secretary General Lawrence Majali dismissed the conciliatory team as one-sided and maintained that the union would not call off its strike until the government met its demands. The union wants the government to pay the teachers salary increments amounting to Sh19 billion in one instalment but the State has insisted that the economy can only support Sh17.3 billion and spread out over a 25-month period.
The strike that entered its second week on Monday has paralysed learning in over 19,000 primary schools affecting over eight million children. Although the strike had initially affected primary schools there were reports that some secondary schools and college teachers had joined in, after threats issued by their counterparts.
“The Teachers Service Commission assures teachers and the general public that we are still open for dialogue and are committed to continue with the conciliation process once the strike is called off,” Mr Lengoiboni ended his statement.