A teacher’s strike that could paralyse learning in public schools in a week’s time now appears inevitable after the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) rejected calls by the Labour ministry to suspend the strike notice.
In a letter to Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani dated December 22, 2018, Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion said the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has historically demonstrated blatant disrespect to conciliators appointed by the ministry.
“Last year on March 18, you appointed one Mrs Maneno to conciliate on the same issues before you but TSC outright rubbished the process,” said Mr Sossion in the letter.
He said the “impunity at play at TSC” cannot give any conciliation process reasonable space to deliver, adding that the matter has been before conciliation at the ministry and has gone beyond any conciliation.
“We demand immediate stoppage of the massive delocalisation of all 3,094 teachers countrywide as a precondition of any engagement with us,” said Mr Sossion.
He said families of the affected teachers are hurting seriously from the “inhumane action” taken by TSC, yet there was a presidential directive on the matter.
“Further, note that we did not register a trade dispute to warrant a conciliator. We have issued a strike notice,” added Mr Sossion.
VERY SERIOUS ISSUES
Mr Sossion said the union will not participate in any conciliation on the basis of the union’s concerns, noting that the issues under contestation are very serious labour matters fully understood by TSC and the government and, therefore, Knut cannot waste time with a conciliation process.
“We have every legal and constitutional right to proceed on a protected strike,” said Mr Sossion.
The letter is copied to Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, TSC Chairperson Lydia Nzomo and CEO Nancy Macharia.
Last week, Mr Yattani appointed a conciliation committee to be chaired by Charles Maranga in a bid to avert a teachers’ strike before schools re-open in January.
Mr Yattani asked Knut, TSC and the Ministry of Education to engage in honest dialogue so as to secure an amicable solution by consensus and avoid a disruption of the school calendar.