NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 12 – The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) has suspended a nationwide workers strike slated for Monday.
COTU Secretary-General Francis Atwoli said that they took the action pending a Tuesday’s court ruling on case by Teachers Service Commission in which it is challenging the legality of the two week old teachers strike.
“Unlike the government we will not disobey an order of the court, so we have suspended the strike until Tuesday, but after that we will assemble here. Our notice still stands,” Atwoli said.
Atwoli had threatened to rally all workers to go on strike in support of teachers, who have downed their tools to press the government to pay them a salary increase of 50-60 per cent as ruled by Employment and Labour Relations Court.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) are staging a second week of boycotting teaching after the government refused to settle the pay increment, which the Court of Appeal supported the demand by state school teachers in a ruling in August.
The teachers’ unions have more than 280,000 members.
The Federation of Kenya Employers said the seven-day strike notice issued by COTU to support striking teachers is illegal adding that it would have devastating effects on the economy and also harm Kenyans’ competitiveness in the global arena.
“FKE therefore advices its members that the threatened strike is illegal and that any worker who fails to turn up for work in pursuit of the illegal notice would face disciplinary action,” FKE chairman Linus Gitahi said.
“This would be a prohibited strike because these employees would be engaging in a strike in support of a trade dispute which they are not party to as outlined in the Labour Relations Act,” he told journalists at the federation’s offices in Nairobi on Friday.
The employers lobby group stated that COTU is not party to the trade dispute between teachers and TSC but also faulted the Ministry of Labour for not showing any commitment to ending the teachers’ strike.
FKE obtained a court order on Friday stopping COTU and its affiliates from taking part in the unlawful strike.
President Kenyatta on Friday said his administration will not be honouring the Court ruling to pay the teachers their due terming their 50-60 percent pay hike demand as being unsustainable.
“The impact of that award is not helpful to the country and even to the teachers because the economic consequences are far reaching and will affect everyone,” he said.