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Striking teachers laugh off TSC sack threat in pay row

Teachers yesterday laughed off sack threats by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) even as the employer sent its county directors a range of guidelines on how to handle the situation.

They include head teachers maintaining an updated attendance record for teachers and learners, which should be submitted to sub-county directors daily with a rider that school heads will be held responsible for the accuracy of the reports.

But speaking separately, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) chairman Mudzo Nzili and Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) deputy secretary general Moses Nthurima and the union’s national Treasurer Mwethi Njenga asked teachers to stay put, saying they will only return to class when TSC implements court orders to pay them a 50 to 60 per cent pay hike.

Nzili asked all teachers and branch secretaries to assemble today at their respective county headquarters with banners to symbolise the strike’s continuity. Speaking yesterday at Waa Boys High School in Kwale county, Nzili said teachers should not be threatened by TSC chairperson Lydia Nzomo that if they fail to resume duties today, they will be sacked.

“In fact, Nzomo has no powers to sack anyone since the court is handling the matters and I really wonder why she is issuing such threats. Teachers will not go back to work,” Nzili said.

He also said that through the strike teachers are currently exercising their fundamental freedoms and rights as the constitution allows until the day that the national government will implement the court ruling.

“Teachers have been patient for quite some time but now our patience is over and we will not go back to class until the court order is implemented. We do not fear any threats issued to us,” he said. Nzili also warned TSC officers against threatening teachers. “I am daring anyone from the TSC to touch any of our members during the ongoing strike,” he said.

Nzili said currently teachers have many problems with the National government and wondered why MPs have remained quiet on the matter. “The strike has now reached its seventh day and no politician has uttered a single word to the National government about the issue,” he said.

On the other hand, Kuppet officials, speaking at the union’s headquarters in Nairobi, told teachers to ignore TSC’s threats and report to the union’s offices close them for further directions.

“You cannot limit individual rights and fundamental freedoms through threats. Teachers are perfectly acting within the law—Article 41 of the Constitution affords teachers the right to participate in strikes,” said Nthurima. “TSC cannot break the law and at the same time seek protection of the same law which it has failed to protect,” he added.

But last evening, TSC Acting Director of Teacher Management Mary Rotich directed county directors to intensify monitoring, collect and submit data bearing the name, TSC number and school of all teachers who boycott duty for removal from the TSC payroll.

She also directed sub-county directors of education to immediately issue show cause letters to head teachers who will send away learners, lock school gates as well as those found inciting their colleagues to strike.

“Further note that the circular should be distributed to all Sub-county Directors without delay. County Directors will be held responsible in the execution of the contents of the circular, ” Rotich’s letter read in part.

And former Prime Minister Raila Odinga dismissed the threats to sack striking teachers as “misplaced” and not in sync with the country’s laws. Raila, who was speaking yesterday during the burial of his step-mother Selina Olango, accused the Jubilee administration of constantly blackmailing teachers and issuing threats which he claimed is worsening the situation.

“The Jubilee government should learn the art of negotiation and acceptance to solve the current teachers strike crisis and not blackmail,” he said. Raila said Jubilee should emulate Cord, which accepted the court verdict that it had lost the 2013 polls, buy honouring court order.

Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi also weighed into the issue, insisting the government owes it to Kenyans to pay teachers what they rightfully deserve after the courts ruled in their favour.

“It is not teachers who went to court, but the government itself. Indeed, the 50-60 per cent pay increment was a government proposal upheld by the courts,” said Mudavadi in a statement to newsrooms.

“The attempt by government to renege on the court award amounts to countermanding the rule of law, and undermines confidence in the judiciary and encourages lawlessness. Worse, it creates uncertainty in the labour market for investors where courts decisions are ignored,” he said.

Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, speaking at the same function as Nzili, also urged the National government to pay the teachers. “If the court has passed the law that the teachers should have a pay rise, why is the National government hesitant?” asked Mvurya.

But Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero appealed to teachers to give dialogue a chance claiming it is the students and parents who suffer most in the standoff between teachers and State. Elsewhere, Mathira MP Peter Weru also urged teachers to consider ending their strike and give the government more time to look for funds in order to implement the court order.

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