Striking teachers who do not return to class this morning should consider themselves sacked, the government said on Monday.
Education Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi said teachers who do not resume work by 8am “would have sacked themselves.”
But union officials dismissed the directive, saying Prof Kaimenyi had no power to issue it.
Kenya National Union of Teachers chairman Wilson Sossion said the strike will continue until the government offers teachers a better deal.
“His (Prof Kaimenyi’s) arbitrary directive could only serve to prolong the strike and harden teachers’ feelings.
“Teachers feel they have been trampled upon by some individuals in government who are hell-bent on denying them their rights. The strike will only end when Knut formally calls it off,” Mr Sossion said.
But Prof Kaimenyi said those who do not return to work will face the music.
“We shall also take appropriate disciplinary action,” he told journalists at his Jogoo House office in Nairobi.
The government is also to start recruiting new teachers on Friday in what Prof Kaimenyi said is to meet a promise to employ 10,000 tutors this year.
“All eligible teachers are required to report to district staffing headquarters for registration at 8am on Friday,” Prof Kaimenyi said.
Prof Kaimenyi, who was accompanied by his Labour counterpart, Mr Kazungu Kambi, and Teachers Service Commission chief executive Gabriel Lengoiboni, accused Knut of reneging on an agreement signed on Saturday to call off the strike.
The giant teachers’ union, the Cabinet Secretary said, had also disobeyed a court order to end the industrial unrest.
He said every employer has rules and that if one absconds duty for 14 days, he or she is supposed to be interdicted. “TSC will do exactly that,” he said.
Mr Lengoiboni said TSC will ensure the code of conduct for teachers is adhered to.
He said to ensure learning in all schools takes place without further interruption, all teachers who have not resumed duty “and wish to remain in the employment of TSC are directed to obey the July 1 court order and report for duty tomorrow (Tuesday) by 8am without fail.”
He said the government offer as negotiated between TSC and Knut and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers still stands and will be implemented from July 1 for all tutors who comply with the law.
The tough-talking Cabinet Secretary said TSC will immediately commence disciplinary action against any teacher who violates the law.
Prof Kaimenyi asked parents and guardians to ensure their children report to school at 8am “ready for classes.”
He said the government has made adequate security arrangements for the safety of the children and teachers on duty.
“All teachers holding positions of responsibility (head teachers, their deputies and senior teachers) are reminded of their obligation under the TSC code of regulations for teachers,” Prof Kaimenyi said.
Last Saturday, he said, Knut agreed to call off the strike, which entered its fourth week on Monday.
TSC, he added, was to convene a meeting of the Consultative Committee on Terms and Conditions of Service to engage the union on its demands for allowances.
TSC also undertook to harmonise commuter allowance for teachers with that of civil servants, increase responsibility allowance by 100 per cent for teachers in Job Group K and below, special school allowance of Sh10,000 monthly and a readers allowance for visually impaired teachers of Sh15,000. The allowances were to be effected from July 1.
On July 1, the Industrial Court directed the two teachers unions to call off the strike and pursue dialogue on their demands. The court also ordered teachers to return to work the following day.
On Monday, Mr Sossion denied that Knut had signed an agreement with the government on Saturday for teachers to return to work saying “we told them that we have to table the proposals to National Executive Council for ratification first.”
Mr Sossion said Knut had written to the government informing it of NEC’s decision to reject its offer.
Speaking on phone, the Knut boss said Prof Kaimenyi has no powers to order teachers to resume classes and that Knut could only have taken the directive seriously if it came from the TSC.
“He (Kaimenyi) is beginning to run TSC. TSC is a constitutional commission; it cannot be directed by anyone. Secondly, we have been dealing with the Ministry of Labour and not Kaimenyi,” Mr Sossion said and accused the Cabinet Secretary of causing confusion in efforts to address the strike.
Mr Sossion accused the government of wanting to force a resolution on the teachers instead of ensuring a mutual one. He also took issue with the government for failing to pay Knut members June salaries “yet they worked for it and has nothing to do with the strike.”
He said there was no progress in its talks with the government since Sunday when Knut’s NEC resolved the industrial action should continue.
“There’s no progress. They have not called us for talks,” Mr Sossion said.
However, rival Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers secretary general Akelo Misori said all its members were back in class.
He said the 47,000 Kuppet members have also received their June salaries.
“Our members have been receiving their pay from Saturday to today,” Mr Misori said.
He spoke to the Nation by phone from the Industrial Court where the union was registering its pay deal with Teachers Service Commission.
Last week, Kuppet formally signed a Sh16.2 billion deal with the government. Under the deal, the lowest paid teacher in Job Group G with Sh1,000 commuter allowance now moves to Sh4,000 while that for the highest paid teacher, chief principal in Job Group R goes up to Sh16,000 from Sh4,410. Also covered in the deal are reading and special allowances.