NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 10 – In a rare show of solidarity, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and its rival the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) on Monday united to press the government to increase the pay rise for teachers, insisting they have a right to demand for more in what they described as “a marriage of convenience.”
They pointed out that Members of Parliament also unite while advocating their rights despite the political inclinations while chanting a ‘people united shall never be defeated’ slogans.
Officials of the two unions which have in the past had bitter exchanges over allegations of betrayal held a meeting in Nairobi where they agreed to unite for a common goal.
KNUT chairman Mudzo Nzili told journalists that they will not be intimidated by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) which has threatened to withhold salaries of striking teachers.
“At the Teacher Service Commission there is a dragon who would like the teachers of Kenya to suffer …who is intimidating the teachers of Kenya,” he stated.
“We are united…we saw their game in Parliament. You unite when you are advocating for your own rights.”
On his part, KUPPET Secretary General Akelo Misori said the government will not divide them in their quest to have a pay rise for teachers.
“We don’t need to have fire brigade to handle teachers issues …We all need sufficient amount of time, collected brains to brainstorm on the issue of teachers and some little resources so that the teachers of this country who are being down trodden can also get the best out of their sweat,” he stated.
He further accused the government of insincerity saying they have only offered Sh5.5 billion against the stated figure of Sh9.3 billion
KNUT has already agreed to participate in court-led talks with the government to find a lasting solution on Wednesday as the strike enters the second week.
KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion also faulted a recent proposal by National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale to devolve education saying all regions do not have similar resources.
“Anybody dreaming and imagining that education can be devolved will leave this country before that is done…we will not allow education devolution whatsoever,” he warned.
He said unlike previous periods, “we are not going to sign a return to work formula so that we are going back to class. We must sign a Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
Sossion argued that previous Collective Bargaining Agreements were not honored by the government.
Teachers in Kisumu also termed suggestions by Duale as a tactic to derail their resolve to have a pay rise.
Kisumu County KUPPET chairman Zablon Awange said the talk about devolving education is meant to distract the attention of teachers from the strike.
Still on Monday, various unions’ branches in the country congregated in various worship places to seek divine intervention over the stalemate.