Teachers take to the streets over pay. The strike that ended a week ago paralysed learning for a month.[PHOTO: BENJAMIN SAKWA/STANDARD]
By VITALIS KIMUTAI
KENYA: The recent teachers’ strike has had far reaching implications on the way trade unions engage with the employers.
It also clearly demonstrated that the times when unions used to cut political deals with Government before ending a strike are behind us.
The strike brought to fore the tactics that President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have employed in dealing with the thorny issue of persistent strikes among public servants pushing for better remunerations.
It also exposed the rivalry between Kenya National Union of Teachers ( Knut), the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers ( KUPPET), Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) and Federation of Public Service Trade Unions (F-PUSETU).
At the same time, the separation of powers between the Executive and the Judiciary was clearly demonstrated early in the week when the Knut paid the ultimate price for defying court orders.
The straw that broke the camel’s back in the Knut case was when the Government resorted to tough measures including reinstating a contempt case against the union and its leadership, freezing pay for teachers, threatening to withhold union dues and closing down all primary schools. Knut is said to have gotten wind of the move by the Government to close down schools and its leadership engaged in an overdrive gear to seek intervention from the political class on the matter. Knut had accused KUPPET of entering into ‘an inferior deal with the Government’, which saw harmonisation of commuter, medical, responsibility and special schools needs allowances within two years.
Knut blamed Cotu for allegedly scuttling the strike, which would have been the biggest the country.
Mr Ernest Nadome, a member of Cotu’s Executive Board denied claims of sabotage saying Knut failed to heed advice from the umbrella union to enter into structured negotiations with the Government.
Knut has been at loggerheads with Cotu especially after the formation of the Federation of Public Service Trade Unions (F-PUSETU) which Sossion and his team were instrumental in forming.