, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 16 – The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has scoffed at a return to work order by Education Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi and has dared the government to live up to its threats.
The union’s Second Vice National Chairman Wycliffe Omucheyi told Capital FM News on Tuesday morning that teachers will not resume work, insisting that they went on strike for a purpose which has not been fulfilled.
Omucheyi laughed off Kaimenyi’s threats of disciplinary action, saying such threats in the past were just hot air.
“Haven’t they ever made such similar threats before? And they have had no real effects. Teachers went on strike with a purpose and that purpose has not yet been achieved. Do you expect us to go back to class?” he quipped.
The government on Monday ordered teachers to resume their duties or face the sack.
“If you choose not to remain in work, you have sacked yourself. And we shall take appropriate disciplinary action. If you abandon duty, you will be deemed to have absconded and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken in line with the law,” Education Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi had said.
It is now a wait-and-see situation on whether the teachers will heed Kaimenyi’s order or will maintain their hard-line stance.
In the meantime a cross section of Kenyans expressed different opinions on the stance taken by the teachers.
Speaking to Capital FM News, a few of those interviewed encouraged teachers to stand their ground and not to be cowed by any threats.
“Teachers also need to be considerate in that if somebody asks you to negotiate you have to give that a chance, go to the table, discuss issues and forge a way ahead,” a parent whose child is a candidate stated.
“The teachers should be reasonable because the children are really suffering out here. They are not reading and in the end there is going to be an examination which they might fail,” she said.
The nationwide teachers’ strike is now in its fourth week after the top decision-making organ of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) rejected the government’s offer of Sh17 billion.
KNUT Secretary General Mudzo Nzili said the National Executive Council (NEC) will only take a vote to end the strike once the government puts a better offer on the table.
Nzili said the government had offered to pay them Sh12 billion in commuter allowances in two phases; the first phase coming into effect July 1 and the second in 2014 but the union’s executive council rejected the offer saying the entire amount should be paid in full before the strike can be called off.
The NEC also demanded that a housing allowance offer totalling Sh29 billion be put on the table.