NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 9 – Trade unions on Wednesday held a rally at Uhuru Park in Nairobi where they vowed to continue supporting the teachers’ strike that has paralysed learning in public schools since last week.
The prayers bringing together hundreds of teachers were led by top Kenya National Union of Teachers officials, including Secretary General Wilson Sossion and chairman Mudzo Nzili.
The tough talking officials were joined by a section of Opposition leaders led by ODM chairman John Mbadi.
“We must obey court orders. We shall use all powers to protect the historic ruling of the court,” Sossion stated amid cheers.
He accused Salaries and Remuneration Commission chairperson Sarah Serem of interfering with the teachers’ affairs, while saying she is the one complicating matters.
“The 56 percent (pay rise) was an offer by the government. We wonder why the wrangles,” he said. “Sarah Serem has been peddling lies…job evaluation is the work of the Teachers Service Commission and not SRC.”
He said the SRC and Teachers Service Commission were still in the slumberland of the previous Constitution.
“The independence of TSC, is the independence of teachers,” he said. “SRC is taking the work of the Ministry of Labour; we shall not allow them.”
He lamented what he termed as huge salary disparities among Kenyan workers while emphasising the need of teachers too, just like any public servants to be well remunerated.
COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli who was present at the prayer meeting urged the government to honour the court ruling and largely castigated the government for disobeying court orders.
He revealed that he had already issued a seven-day ultimatum to the acting Labour Cabinet Secretary to address teachers’ issues or he calls a national strike by all workers in Kenya.
He was set to meet acting Labour CS Raychelle Omamo on Wednesday afternoon where he was to present their grievances and those of other sectors.
“We don’t want to fight the government but let this government be fair and just. Let them recognise we are pressure groups. We are champions of social justice,” he stated.
On Tuesday, 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.”