NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 1 – The Kenya National Union of Teachers has told the government to brace for a long-drawn battle, after officials defied a court order to resume duty and vowed that the strike which entered its second week on Monday is still on.
KNUT Acting Secretary General Xavier Nyamu speaking moments after the Industrial Court directed teachers to resume work by Tuesday morning, said teachers should not relent in their pay demands.
The union officials say the strike has just began and no one, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Education Secretary or the courts can call off the industrial action. “Only the union’s secretary general has the mandate to order teachers back to work.”
“We want all teachers in private (primary) and secondary schools to join in this strike. We are advising the parents of this country to prepare to stay much longer with their children at home as we struggle with our rights. The struggle starts tomorrow and it will continue progressively until such a time the government will have honoured their part of their bargain,” he told a news conference.
“We want to be very open. The strike is not at the KNUT Headquarters, the strike is with the teachers there (countrywide). The teachers have the strike… the government has the money. So we have to do a bit of exchange (to do); give us the money and we give you the strike.”
Meanwhile, their members used a chain and a padlock to barricade the main entrance to the KNUT Headquarters located on Mfangano Street while chanting anti-establishment slogans.
They sang ‘Luwere Nyasaye Akhulinde’ (a luhya dirge) for Education Minister Kaimenyi and his Labour counterpart in a sarcastic prayer for the well-being of their souls in the other world after they disowned the 1997 agreement.
Nyamu rebuked Kaimenyi for ordering TSC to stop payment of teachers’ salaries in the June for work not done. “Teachers don’t draw salaries from Kaimenyi & Kaimenyi investments.”
Another section made sure that no ‘unvetted person’ entered the headquarters for fear there might be a bid to serve orders on their national officials.
Journalists going to cover a news conference were required to produce the identification documents and then have their equipment bags searched in case they were ‘carrying’ the court directive, ordering the teacher to return back to work.
On Monday, the court ordered the striking teachers to report back to work on Tuesday by 8am after a weeklong class boycott.
The court also ordered the government to form a committee that would negotiate with teachers on their demands.
The teachers union was categorical that they have not refused to negotiate anew. “We have refused to renegotiate legal notice of 1997.”
KNUT National Chairman Wilson Sossion claimed the government was resulting to intimidation tactics to undermine the strike action.
“Look what they are doing, look at the gimmicks, (such as) suspending salaries for the days we have worked. This government wants to turn us into slaves so that we comply with everything they want us to do. We shall defy (any orders),” Sossion stated.