NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 26 – Learning in public schools across the country was paralysed for the second day running as the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) vowed to remain on strike, while lashing out at Labour Secretary Kazungu Kambi for making “dictatorial and misguided statements”.
KNUT chairman Wilson Sossion told reporters on Wednesday that the agreement reached in 1997 had been gazetted and could not be arbitrarily overturned.
He accused Kambi and his Education counterpart Jacob Kaimenyi of trying to hoodwink Kenyans by terming the mass action illegal and stated that the attempts would only fuel their mass action.
“We were there with the Teachers Service Commission for conciliation which was chaired by learned and efficient personnel of the Ministry of Labour and they gave us what we call a certificate of disagreement,” he stated.
He described teachers as learned people and that any attempts to deny them their rights would be resisted.
“We did not cook those documents and we think Kazungu is playing politics and being a protégé of some individuals in government,” he said.
“We never enjoyed anything under legal notice number 16. The moment it came to exist, we lost completely. So some arguments that teachers have enjoyed legal notice number 16 since 2003 is misplaced and it is a lie to the public. It is shameful.”
Secretary General Xavier Nyamu further pointed out that a court ruling recognized the 1997 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and urged Kambi to familiarise himself with the constitution.
“He is the first genius to realise that there is no CBA and there can be only one conclusion that obviously, the Cabinet Secretary has no clue what a CBA is and we urge him to quickly go back to school so that we teachers can educate him on what a CBA is,” he stated.
Nyamu further stated that the involvement of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions in teachers’ negotiations is an affront to their rights since the organisation was partisan.
“We have also noticed that the Cabinet Secretary is busy engaging unrecognised bodies in negotiating teachers’ matters. We wish to inform him that KNUT does not affiliate to COTU and that KNUT is a firm affiliate of the PUSETU-K. For the secretary to engage COTU in teachers’ negotiations is an abuse to teachers’ intelligence and right of affiliation as enshrined in the Constitution,” he said.
He demanded that the Cabinet Secretary should cease any engagement with COTU failure of which KNUT will abscond any meetings held.
“And it pains to hear and see in the papers and TVs some of the pronouncements of people who were vetted by the Parliament the other day and we thought we got the best,” he stated.
“It is unfortunate that we may have got illiterate people who do not read and find out before they pronounce what they are saying and do not even respect the constitution.”
According to Kambi, while the agreement was gazetted, the government of the day is not legally bound by it and has called the union back to the negotiating table.
He accused KNUT of always clinging on the legal notice of 1997 and declared that a legal notice can be changed any time.
Kambi pointed out that if their concerns were not addressed in 1997, it could not be done today 100 percent.