By AUGUSTINE ODUOR
As the country slides steadily to a standstill over ongoing labour unrest, the Government has created a Cabinet sub-committee to resolve the industrial disputes.
The move comes as major operations in key hospitals that require the intervention of doctors are paralysed after the health workers downed their tools (See story on Page 9).
At the Cabinet meeting, President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga failed to come up with a concrete decision to end the ongoing teachers’ strike. Children in public primary and secondary schools will have to contend with more suffering at home. The Cabinet sub-committee begins work today under the chairmanship of Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno, and will include Ministers John Munyes (Labour), Mutula Kilonzo (Education), Margaret Kamar (Higher Education), Anyang’ Nyongo (Medical Services), Njeru Githae (Finance), and Attorney General Githu Muigai.
Cabinet said it was unfair that pupils in public schools remained idle while their colleagues in private institutions were completing the syllabus and revising ahead of national examinations.
It also expressed concern that patients ware suffering in hospitals for lack of proper care and appealed to all “striking public servants to obey court orders that declared the strikes illegal and go back to work”.
The Cabinet meeting, chaired by President Kibaki, asked public servants not to shun dialogue, but “within the public sector wage setting as provided for under the framework of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission”.
Teachers and doctors have ignored court orders to end the strike. Sources told The Standard late Thursday that the Cabinet team would be seeking to harmonise teachers’ salaries with those of civil servants. This move, earlier rejected by teachers, is bound to anger them more as they insist the State should honour their demands for a pay increment.
The Cabinet team is expected to meet the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) today in a move to explore ways of ending the strike.
This comes even as on Wednesday this week, Parliament’s Committee on Education asked the two principals to act decisively during Cabinet meeting Thursday to end the strike.