NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 1 – Trade unions and the Opposition on Tuesday teamed up to pressure the government into paying a Sh17 billion increment awarded to the teachers by Employment and Labour Relations Court.
The Trade Union Congress of Kenya and the Orange Democratic Movement separately voiced support for the two-day old teachers’ strike called by Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) to demand for the settlement of the 50 to 60 percent pay rise dating back from July 2013 to July 2017.
Deputy Secretary Charles Mukhwaya said they will not relent in their push and urged the government to respect the court’s decision and pay teachers the increment.
“We are telling the President of this country, that it is the Supreme Court that has now ruled with finality that, pay the Kenyan teachers. We would like to remind the President that in 2013, it is the very Supreme Court that ruled Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta had won the presidential election and Kenyans led by the Opposition respected the Supreme Court ruling. That is why the President must lead the executive wing of the government in respecting the rule of law,” he said.
Mukhwaya accused the government of disobeying the court ruling which he warned is likely to lead to anarchy.
He added that the labour sector is monitoring the situation and would be meeting to decide whether to call a nationwide workers strike if the government does not pay.
“I ask teachers to go their banks and check if the government has deposited the money they should not leave until the government does so. The workers of Kenya are ready to join teachers to ensure they get all their dues,” said Mukhwaya during a news conference held at their headquarters.
The Trade Union Congress of Kenya is further calling for the resignation of the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) chairperson Lydia Nzomo for the mishandling the matter.
“What we are talking about here is the constitutional rights are being violated, the Kenyan teacher has walked the entire due process, the law is behind the Kenyan teacher, anybody who is going to do contrary to that, is the one to be sacked. We are actually calling at the supremo at the TSC that she should resign, this is something that she has goofed, her commission has goofed, she must accept liability and pave way,” said the TUC-K Deputy Secretary.
The Opposition has meanwhile stated it will support a parliamentary initiative aimed at making available Sh17 billion required to settle the court awarded pay increment to teachers.
ODM Secretary General Ababu Namwamba termed as laughable claims by the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich that the government cannot pay the increment.
“We believe there is money, ODM is ready through Parliament to work on a comprehensive arrangement that will find the resources to pay the teachers,” he said.
He cited the recent findings by the auditor general which exposed over Sh65 billion had been misappropriated by government and State agencies.
Namwamba said the Opposition was displeased in the manner in which the government was handling the teacher crisis which has now seen teaching in public school paralysed for the second day.
“When you look at the wastage, when you look at money lost through corruption, the misuse of public resources it is laughable for government to say that they cannot raise Sh17 billion. This is the same government, whose officials we see raining money everywhere in harambees and other pseudo-philanthropic activities whose source can only be termed as mysterious.” Namwamba stated.
“The fact that government is fighting this deal, this late in the day, also bespeaks of a government that is poor at planning, when government moved to court, they must have anticipated the court awarding teachers this increment they should have prepared for that,” the ODM chief told a news conference held at Orange House.
Teachers unions KNUT and KUPPET called for a strike to coincide with schools’ opening if the increased pay was not deposited in their accounts by August 31, midnight.