KNUT declares teachers strike still on as conciliation talks collapse


KNUT declares teachers strike still on as conciliation talks collapse
KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion addressing the media on Saturday, December 29, 2018. PHOTO| COURTESY

In Summary

  • In a press briefing on Saturday evening, KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion said last-minute talks with the government had failed to bear fruit, adding that there would be no further dialogue unless their demands are addressed.
  • Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani appointed a conciliation committee to spearhead mediation talks between KNUT and TSC to avert the impending strike.
  • The teachers' union wants the transfers of 3,094 head teachers of primary and secondary schools by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) be recalled terming them irregular.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers ( KNUT) has declared it will go ahead with its strike scheduled to begin on January 2, 2019 to protest teachers transfers and lack of promotions.

In a press briefing on Saturday evening, KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion said last-minute talks with the government had failed to bear fruit, adding that there would be no further dialogue unless their demands are addressed.

“We have had a long engagement with the team from the Ministry of Labour. We really don’t have any good news for Kenyans and the children of Kenya. We have made our oral submissions to them,” said Sossion.

He added: “TSC must suspend forthwith the purported transfer and handing over of teachers as a precondition to further dialogue with us.”

Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani appointed a conciliation committee to spearhead mediation talks between KNUT and TSC to avert the impending strike.

On Saturday, the team met with KNUT separately ahead of a similar meeting with TSC on Monday, December 31 which will be followed by a joint meeting on the same day. KNUT has vowed to boycott the planned joint meeting.

The teachers’ union wants the transfers of 3,094 head teachers of primary and secondary schools by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) be recalled terming them irregular.

“Delocolisation has been done without consultation.  TSC was clearly instructed to stop what it’s doing. Papers have been exchanged but the hearts of teachers are still unmoved,” added Sossion

 

While issuing the strike notice on Wednesday, December 19 Sossion indicated that the transfers had not yet been approved by the appointing board.

“This action by TSC constitutes abuse of office and defiance to the head of state,” retorted Sossion. “We are withdrawing labour to protest disruption of families through irregular policy of delocalisation,”

The KNUT Secretary General also faulted TSC on their persistence to subject teachers to performance contracts and appraisals terming it as intimidating.

“Subjection of teachers to illegal contracts, TSC is reducing teachers to clerical officers,” said Sossion.

“We are protesting the introduction of the teacher professional development policies without stakeholder’s opinion. Capacity building is work of the employer, not from a teacher’s salary.”

The strike, if effected, will most definitely disrupt the education calendar that kicks off in January when pupils and students go back to school from the long Christmas holiday that started in November.

Earlier this year, KNUT had opposed the teachers’ transfer which was part of TSC’s delocalisation programme.

TSC says that any issues by individual heads that will arise from the transfers will be handled by the receiving county heads.

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