Strikes bode ill for the country, sort out differences amicably

There might have been a lull, but the threat of industrial action by various groups of Kenyan workers still looms large.

Kenyans are not likely to forget the drawn out industrial action by nurses in 2017 that lasted five months, the cause of which was the government reneging on a Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement (CBA). This strike, coming shortly after doctors had staged a 100-day strike in December, devastated the health sector.

Similarly, government’s failure to honour a CBA with teachers led to strikes in 2015 and 2016. After President Uhuru Kenyatta brokered a deal, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General Wilson Sossion made an undertaking that teachers would not go on strike in the next four years.

Somehow today, he seems quite content to swallow his words in the latest stand-off with TSC and the parent ministry.

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Though civil servants in Kenya have not staged a strike for a long time, this is likely to come to end should the government fail to meet the February 15 deadline to review house allowances. Clearly, the government is caught between a rock and a hard place, but there is no escaping the reality that the country cannot afford another strike at this moment in time. There is too much going that industrial action will interfere with, which is why parties concerned should seek an amicable solution.

In particular, having committed to meeting the Universal Health Care (UHC) goals and timelines, a strike by nurses; critical players in the implementation of UHC, will throw the spanner in the works for one of President Kenyatta’s Big 4 pillars.

A strike by teachers will greatly undermine the noble concept envisaged in the roll-out of the new Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

After several false starts, CBC was rolled out this year and nothing should be allowed to get in the way of its seamless implementation.

The negative cost to the economy when workers go on strike cannot be overemphasized. Because Kenyans cannot be subjected to perpetual suffering just because two parties to a dispute cannot find a common ground, dialogue is the way out.

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KenyansCBAPresident Uhuru KenyattaWilson SossionTSCUHC