By Augustine Oduor and Mwaniki Munuhe
The proposed deal, however, collapsed spectacularly when given a closer look in the cold light of day. On Saturday, the top decision making organ of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) refused to endorse the return-to-work deal its representatives had allegedly accepted on Friday night.
The action by Knut’s National Executive Council has set the stage for a final showdown with the Government, which has promised drastic measures tomorrow if teachers continue to boycott classes.
Acting Head of Civil Service Francis Kimemia sent a terse letter to the Teachers Service Commission on Friday, urging tough action if the strike goes on.
He instructed TSC, the teachers’ employer, to immediately implement the recommendations of a recent Cabinet meeting.
Cabinet on Thursday ordered the mass sacking of teachers should their unions refuse to accept a three-phase implementation to a Sh13.5 billion deal. Ministers told TSC to withhold the September salaries for anyone taking part in the unprotected strike and authorised the hiring of 100,000 new teachers. Cabinet says the new hires will come from among the unemployed trained teachers and retired teachers under age 65.
Yesterday, Knut chairman Wilson Sossion dismissed the threat of mass sackings.
“We are telling the Government: ‘Sack us today if you want’,” he said. “We are even telling them to take the salaries for September and October if they want. After all, it’s just some little money whose effect in our pockets we don’t feel.”
Sossion added that the retired teachers the Government wants to use as strike breakers would not take the jobs because they, too, are owed and have an axe to grind with authorities, which has allegedly refused to pay out retirement dues.