NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – Public schools remain closed for the second week running even as teachers dared the Teacher Service Commission (TSC) to sack all those taking part in the nationwide strike, saying they will not go back to class until the government pays their dues.
Speaking at the union’s headquarters, Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion urged teachers to ignore the threats and instead gather at their branch headquarters as countrywide demonstrations take place.
Sossion stated that TSC was in no position to threaten teachers after refusing to effect the 50 to 60 percent salary increment awarded by the Employment and Labour Relations Court.
“This strike has been caused by the Government of Kenya and we will be out for as long as it takes. If it means that they take our salaries, let them do so for all of us. If it means that they fire us, we are prepared for that eventuality. This time round we are not budging even a little,” he said.
“We are now declaring total action for the remaining days until we direct you otherwise. There will be total paralysis. Teachers should not go near any school and to our good parents, we urged you to keep your children at home. We cannot guarantee you the safety of your children in school.”
Sossion stressed that they will go on with the strike for as long as is necessary.
“What we are simply fighting for is what we call a living wage. We yesterday saw the chairperson of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission talking about the harmonisation of salaries. We are talking about a Collective Bargaining Agreement and in any case, SRC brought their lawyers in court and they were defeated,” he stated.
“We are not civil servants, we are teachers. In the same commission, Sarah Serem should tell us when she conducted job evaluation for the secretariat staff and ordered salary increases with effect from November last year. We are not going to accept to be condemned to abject poverty by the lies and machinations of government functionaries.”
In a circular, TSC had issued its county directors with instructions and guidelines on punishing absentee teachers and had urged them to intensify monitoring of schools to ensure no one absconds duty.
But Sossion said: “We are ready to stay out, let them know that even if the President and Deputy President are keeping quiet, they will not be quite forever. It is the teachers who set exams, who supervise and who mark so Kaimenyi cannot cheat Kenyans that there will be smooth national examinations,” he stated.
“We cannot have the exception of a few fat cats in this country taking all the money and when it comes to teachers there is no money. They are not telling us what is happening with corruption which is costing this country Sh500 billion,” he stated.
TSC had directed striking teachers to resume duty on Monday or be taken off the payroll.
The commission also directed school heads to ensure any learners who were turned away on account of the teachers’ strike, are recalled.
TSC Chairperson Lydia Nzomo asked to the striking teachers to think of the more than one million learners registered to sit for national examinations next month.
The Cabinet Secretary for Education Joseph Kaimenyi on Friday also called upon the striking teachers to sympathise with pupils and their parents.