Defiant Teachers Continue Strikes in Kenya, Despite Warnings to Return to Work
Striking teachers in Kenya are refusing to return to work after 5,000 were sent warning letters for failing to handle the strikes accordingly.
As the strikes entered their seventh day on Wednesday, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) revealed it had sent disciplinary letters to head teachers, deputy heads and other senior teachers, giving them 14 days to respond or face being sacked.
The warnings haven’t been well received though, as demonstrations were held in various cities across the country – including Nairobi, Nyeri and Nakura – on Wednesday. The overall message is one of defiance with protesters insisting they won’t be intimidated into returning to work.
The strikes followed the TSC’s failure to increase teachers’ wages in accordance to a court ruling in August that ordered a 50-60% pay rise over the next four years. But now the commission and workers unions appear to be at deadlock, pointing the finger at each other on the grounds of unlawful misconduct.
Teachers told to ignore threats
Earlier this week the Kenya Union Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) reportedly told officials to ignore any warnings from the TSC and “proceed with countrywide demonstrations as planned.”
KUPPET Deputy Secretary General, Moses Nthurima, has told journalists the commission has no grounds to tell teachers how they should follow the law:
“The TSC has no moral authority to lecture teachers on how to follow the law,” he said. “It has disobeyed the court, which is vested with powers to interpret the law.”
However, the TSC argues there were no notices given ahead of the strikes, as required by law, and claims the demonstrations are unlawful – the basis of the warning letters sent out this week.
Meanwhile the demonstrations continue and there are no reports of the TSC carrying out its threats to sack teachers as of yet; which means a fight over pay that dates back almost 40 years looks set to carry on – at least for now.