NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – “I cannot trade my life with work, my life comes first; if I die, will I leave my children to the wilderness?” Dorris Nyatuka who was among hundreds of teachers who went to the CID headquarters on Monday to show solidarity with their union’s Secretary General told Capital FM News.
“I made my personal decision not to go back there after what I witnessed, I am still traumatised,” the mother of two stated. “If it was not selective killing I would have gone back… this was not the case.”
Richard Otieno who used to teach in Garissa also says he is yet to overcome the trauma over the Mandera massacre after some of his colleagues were killed.
“The government should not see my Secretary General as the one behind this, this is a decision I made at a personal level; my life comes first,” he stated.
“(Wilson) Sossion is just saying what we have agreed… who will ever understand the pain of a teacher?”
These were just some of the teachers who joined other trade union officials to show solidarity with KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion who had been summoned for inciting teachers from Northeastern Kenya not to return to their places of work.
After two hours of grilling, Sossion remained adamant, saying the government must transfer them to a more conducive environment.
He called on government to address their challenges instead of issuing threats.
“I have recorded a very clear statement and I have reproduced the report that we developed arising from insecurity and killing of teachers.”
“I want to make it very clear, that all the teachers who have registered with us and we have annexed their statement must be transferred and be subjected to a minimum six months professional counselling.”
In a show of solidarity, top union officials in the country were there in support of the embattled Sossion among them Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli who said the unions will henceforth unite to fight for their rights.
“No government can afford to summon such a serious leader to CID… the time has come that we remain united on social, political and economic issues,” he said.
The union leaders further asked North eastern leaders to keep off the matter saying instead they should be pushing the government to act on their grievances.
“The trade unions of this country are on trial,” KNUT Chairman Mudzo Nzili stated.
The Leader of the Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale had warned teachers from three counties in the north that they risked losing their jobs if they failed to report back to work without delay.
Duale who was speaking in the company of leaders from the region on January 26 said he would sanction the government to sack teachers who will not have reported to work by this week.
“If teachers will not report by Monday next week, the same process that was used to hire the teachers through the BOGs for the secondary schools and through the County or District Education Boards for the primary schools, that process must be initiated; the children from the north under the Constitution must be taught by Kenyan teachers,” Duale – who is the Garissa Town Member of Parliament – said.
The teachers expressed fear following the killing of their colleagues in the Mandera bus massacre in which 28 people were butchered by suspected Al Shabaab militants.
The leaders said 1,500 hundred teachers who are non-Muslims are already teaching in private schools while the others absconded duty, running into the fourth week.
There are 567 teachers from Mandera, 260 from Wajir and 94 from Garissa.
Over 1,000 teachers have refused to return to their respective schools.