Merry Christmas but it will not be a Happy New Year.
That is the message that was issued on Wednesday by a giant teachers’ union as it issued a strike notice over alleged violation of labour rights by their employer.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) said the job boycott, which may see all public schools fail to re-open, will start on January 2, 2019.
“Merry Christmas... but we can’t promise you that the new year will start well… parents should adjust their budgets very well because Christmas will be extended into the new year,” Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion said as he announced the industrial action in Nairobi.
Mr Sossion, in a televised press conference, accused the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) of “de-professionalising the teaching profession”.
He cited TSC’s failure to promote teachers as one of the four reasons for the strike notice addressed to Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani.
TSC, he said, had refused to move teachers up the the job-grade ladder based on merit, qualifications, long service and exceptional performance in their work.
Mr Sossion said Knut was also angered by TSC CEO Nancy Macharia’s decision to transfer more than 3,000 head-teachers “irregularly”.
"The transfers, Knut can authoritatively reveal, were effected without the approval of the TSC appointment board," he claimed.
The Nation could not independently verify the claim, which brings into question the execution of TSC's teacher de-localisation policy that seeks to uproot head-teachers from their home counties.
"This policy has broken families," Mr Sossion said as he vowed to not to call off the strike until the transfers are reversed.
Those affected by the transfers are head teachers of primary and secondary schools who have stayed in one station for more than nine years.
They have until December 28 to hand over.
TSC announced the transfers just a day after the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) wrote a protest letter to the commission, asking it to stop transfers of the head teachers.
The transfers come a year after 1,065 principals were shuffled in a controversial delocalisation programme by the commission, leading to protests from education stakeholders who attracted the attention of President Kenyatta.
The Head of State asked for a review of the policy to ensure it does not break up families.
"TSC is disrespecting the president," M r Sossion said.
The union is also unhappy with the commission's failure to fully implement the 2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement that ended one of the longest teachers' strike last year.