Sunday, September 9, 2012

Teachers to press on with boycott as doctors join in

KNUT Deputy Secretary General Xavier nyamu (right) with National Chairman Wilson Sossion (centre) National Treasurer Albanus Mutisia (left) after addressing the press conference maintaining that the ongoing teachers strike is on at Nairobi KNUT offices on September 8 2012. The Union has advised parents to allow children to stay at home until teacher's demands on salary increment has been solved by the government. Photo/ANTHONY OMUYA

KNUT Deputy Secretary General Xavier nyamu (right) with National Chairman Wilson Sossion (centre) National Treasurer Albanus Mutisia (left) after addressing the press conference maintaining that the ongoing teachers strike is on at Nairobi KNUT offices on September 8 2012. The Union has advised parents to allow children to stay at home until teacher's demands on salary increment has been solved by the government. Photo/ANTHONY OMUYA 

By JOHN NJAGI jnjagi@ke.nationmedia.com AND DENNIS ODUNGA dodunga@ke.nationmedia.com

The wave of strikes may spread to public hospitals this week as teachers on Sunday defied a government directive to return to work.

Doctors in public hospitals have threatened to boycott work from Thursday to press for better terms. They also want the government to rescind a decision to suspend 393 trainee doctors at two referral hospitals.

The doctors are on Monday set for talks with the management of Kenyatta National Hospital whose outcome would determine whether they down their tools or not.

Teachers and university lecturers have been on strike since last week, paralysing services in the education sector.

On Sunday, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) officials vowed to continue with the strike, accusing the government of intimidation and not taking their demands seriously.

Knut chairman Wilson Sossion said the strike would continue until their demand for a 300 per cent pay increase is implemented.

He accused the government of engaging in coordinated intimidation of teachers instead of bringing substantive offers to the negotiating table.

The union urged its members across the country not to report to schools for a roll call as directed by their employer, the Teachers Service Commission. Instead, they should report at Knut branches countrywide for prayers.

Mr Sossion asked teachers to take directives only from the Knut head office.

He dismissed threats by the government to freeze salaries of teachers or to even sack them, arguing that they were engaging in a legal strike.

“We have met the minimum requirements of the law and should be allowed to continue with our strike without intimidation,” he said.

The strike has been declared illegal by the Industrial Court, but the teachers argue that the 1997 collective bargaining agreement was binding and could not be reversed.

Speaking at a press briefing at the union offices in Nairobi, the Knut officials also hit out at the government for accusing teachers of disobeying a court order, yet it had itself disregarded a series of court directives in the recent past.

Acting secretary-general Xavier Nyamu urged police not to disrupt demonstrations, terming the actions unconstitutional.

Mr Nyamu asked parents to keep their children at home until the teachers resolve the stalemate with the government.

Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) secretary-general Muga K’Olale said the dons would meet with the Inter-University Council Consultative Forum to discuss their demands for a 200 per cent pay rise before they could resume work.

However, he said the talks were likely to be volatile, accusing the council of placing a “stupid” counter offer of a 0.5 per cent pay rise, which the lecturers would reject.

He said lecturers would only consider returning to work after a meaningful and acceptable offer was made.

The chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, Mr Victor Ng’ani, said union officials would meet with the management of Kenyatta National Hospital to discuss the strike by trainee doctors on Monday.

He said the meeting was the initiative of KNH and the Kenya Medical Association. The Ministry of Medical Services, he said, had remained silent on the issue.

“The meeting is unlikely to achieve much without the input of the ministry,” he added.

Mr Ng’ani said the suspension of the trainee doctors was illegal. The trainees were demanding payment of a monthly stipend and other allowances.

The medics union is also demanding implementation of the Musyimi Task Force report that recommended improved working conditions and facilities for doctors.

And on Sunday, Higher Education Minister Margaret Kamar appealed to lecturers to return to the negotiating table.

The minister made the plea as members of Uasu and Universities Non-Teaching Staff Union (Untesu) from Moi University demonstrated at Chepkoilel University College where she had attended an agri-business trade fair.

Dr Edebe said lecturers’ pay is supposed to be reviewed after every two years, but vice-chancellors had been reluctant to participate in the pay talks.

advertisement