Knut national chairman Wilson Sossion called to for the implementation of 300 per cent salary increment negotiated in 1997 a success.
But as the teachers marched to the streets, a hard-talking Mutula vowed the Government would not succumb to the teachers’ demands. He said they were used to the tactics used by teachers employ every election year, and vowed he would not entertain “such nonsense”.
Mutula said: “The teachers are used to blackmailing the Government every election year, but it will not happen now, not when am around”.
The minister added a twist to the dispute claiming the strike is politically motivated. “Look around and you will see there is a political hand pulling the strings, we know this very well but we cannot entertain it,” he alleged. With his hard talk, Mutula appeared to put his political career on the line.
“I am an honest broker and I am sure the teachers have never had one so am I urging them to use my services,” he added. Mutula backed TSC’s threats to freeze the salaries of teachers engaged in the strike and to withhold the dues of unions.
But Sossion declared teachers would not be cowed by any threats of victimisation. He added they were ready to even go to jail as the costs of agitating for their dues.
“We are prepared to go to jail or even die if necessary. As long as it takes, even if three or four months, we will stay put and we will not be intimidated by any ill-will of the Government,” Sossion told a press conference at Sports View Hotel in Kasarani, Nairobi. “The strike is a great success and we are urging the teachers to maintain that tempo and pressure. We encourage them to remain with the spirit of solidarity for as long as it takes,” he added.
As teachers pressed on with the protests, Knut secretary general David Okuta Osiany was admitted at the intensive care unit of Aga Khan Hospital, Kisumu on Sunday following an undisclosed ailment.
Kilonzo warned that by violating the court orders, teachers had presented the Judiciary with the perfect opportunity to stamp its authority on them. “The Judiciary must use this window presented by the teachers’ union to put its foot down and say enough is enough,” he said.
The minister said at today’s court hearing the union lawyers should be directed that their clients call off the strike. But Sossion countered the Government was itself guilty of contempt because it had failed to pay the retirees their dues, despite an order by the High Court in Nakuru.
He maintained that the union had not been served with court orders stopping the strike, terming them alien. “If there are such orders then they are long overtaken by events since the teachers are already on strike,” he said. Separately the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) backed the teachers’ strike and questioned the legitimacy of the court order obtained by TSC last Friday.