Teachers call off strike after last minute meeting
Posted Monday, February 18 2013 at 00:30
- Secondary and primary tutors had differed on industrial action but talks avert job stayaway
The nationwide teachers strike which was scheduled to start on Tuesday has been suspended after marathon talks between the government and their union. (Read: Teachers’ strike premature, says TSC)
The move to call off the strike came after a lengthy meting between top Ministry of Education officials and the Kenya National Union of Teachers(Knut) at the Maanzoni Lodge off the Nairobi-Mombasa highway in Machakos County.
On Sunday, the team meeting in Maanzoni agreed on four points: To initiate the legal process of de-gazzetting legal notice no 16 of 2003; Knut and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to negotiate the framework for implementation of legal notice no 534 of 1997 and the degazzetting of legal Notice No 16 of 2003 which should have no immediate financial implications.
Instead, the move will facilitate negotiations between the TSC and the union on teachers’ house, medical and commuter allowances within the current law.
The meeting, which took about six hours, was chaired by Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo and attended by his Permanent Secretary George Godia, TSC officials, Knut national chairman Wilson Sossion, acting secretary-general Xavier Nyamu and national treasurer Albunus Mutisya.
Reading a joint letter signed by all the parties, Mr Kiloinzo said, “for the time being, the nationwide-wide teachers strike shall be suspended pending the outcome of the provisions discussed today (Sunday).”
The minister praised the union for accepting to call off the strike in view of the current political situation in the country where the focus is on the March 4 elections.
“I feel relaxed today that this threat to hold a nationwide teachers strike at a time when the country is heading to a historic election has ended,” the minister said.
Mr Nyamu said the suspension of the strike means that the Form One selection and admission process which is currently underway will move on smoothly.
Knut is demanding Sh2 billion in house, medical and commuter allowances that were supposed to be paid in January. They had threatened to mobilise members to go on strike starting Monday. (Read: Teachers ask for Sh25bn and set strike for Monday)
But the strike had split teachers’ unions with one supporting the industrial action and the other calling for talks.
While Knut wanted to continue with the strike, the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) said tutors should allow time for negotiations.
Mr Francis Atwoli, the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) secretary-general, also told reporters yesterday that his organisation would not support the strike because it was ill-timed. Prime Minister Raila Odinga last week urged the union to suspend the strike and allow room for negotiations.