KNUT suspends strike, schools resume Monday

October 3, 2015 9:20 am


WILSON-SOSSION-NZILINAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 3 – The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) on Saturday suspended their strike for 90 days as directed by the Employment and Labour Relations court.

KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion suspended the strike following a meeting of the National Executive Council, “in respect for the rule of law,” and directed their members to resume work at 8am Monday morning.

“We are now announcing formally, that third term commences on October 5. Parents we are ready for you, you will meet us ready to receive your children in class,” he declared.

He however made clear that the union complied with the court directive, “under protest,” accusing the courts, though the order, of applying a double-standard where they were concerned by stripping teachers of their bargaining power in their duel with the, “almighty Executive,” which he said had blatantly disregarded the same court’s orders not to withhold their September pay and suffered no consequence.

He said it was also irregular that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) had failed to withdraw its petition before the Court of Appeal challenging the 50 to 60 percent pay increase awarded to them by Justice Nduma Nderi despite his counterpart Justice Nelson Abuodha’s directive that they sit down with KNUT and engage in conciliation in good faith limited to exploring viable modalities of implementing the award.

“Surprisingly not only does the court entertain the petition,” Sossion complained, “it proceeds to grant them the one critical order they sought: the return of teachers to invigilate exams.”

And should no consensus be reached within the 90 days, Sossion threatened, the public school teachers would go back on strike. “Please note that we’ve not called off the strike. We’ve only suspended it and let’s be clear. This is not a negotiation to slash the 50 to 60 percent pay award. What we’ve been told to do is to discuss how it will be implemented.”

All concerns that the union made known in the Court of Appeal when they threatened to walk out of the proceedings; expressing an unwillingness to take part in a farce and accusing the bench of bowing to pressure from the Executive and consequently putting on a show.

READ: Gloves off as Appeal Court puts off hearing case on teachers’ pay

The reluctance of the teachers to suspend the strike was evident when union members jeered their officials at the announcement.

“We shall physically be in class,” they shouted, “but go-slow.”

A disgruntled few also openly disagreed with the union’s call for the postponement of the national exams so that candidates are properly prepared. “Don’t postpone. Let them fail so they (government) can appreciate the work we do.”

Another member who did not want to be identified told Capital FM News that he would not participate in another strike once the 90 days were up and no consensus had been reached.

The union officials sought to calm the waters by reminding the members that it would be unwise to burn bridges with the very same courts where they may be forced to seek refuge in future.

“Don’t you think Shaka Zulu regretted his scorched earth policy when he was forced to retreat?” an elderly gentleman, a union official from the coast, cautioned.


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