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Why Jubilee government is to blame for strike wave

By Peter Nguli | June 27th 2013

By Peter Nguli

NAIROBI, KENYA: Believe it or not, the Jubilee government is to blame for having started a wave of strikes that is now threatening to bring our country to a standstill. 

With just one blunder of increasing MP's pay, the current Jubilee government made a terrible mistake which has potential to ground our country's economy to a terrifying halt. I thought our president could foresee it comin.  

H.E. the President Uhuru Kenyatta's government did the greatest mistake of surpassing the Salaries and Renumeration Committee (SRC) by increasing MP's pay instead of sticking to what the SRC had rightly mandated as final salary for the MPs.

Now, one would ask: what is the role of the SRC? Is it not a toothless bulldog? Perhaps, the SRC should be dismantled and thrown into a dustbin altogether. It has no teeth to bite nor weapon to stand on it's own.

As if that is not enough, the government went further to increase the salaries of County Representative salaries. 

This happened as a section of local media alledged in reports that Deputy President William Ruto went on a luxury jet tour to Central and Western Africa, spending over Shs100 million in just four days.

Over 70 per cent of Kenyans live below the poverty line. Assuming that each primary teacher in Kenya is paid twenty thousand shillings per month on average, the one hundred million shillings can afford to pay 5,000 teachers in one month. That is the truth my dear. 

As far as I understand the law, every Kenyan citizen has a right to lead a decent life devoid of troubles and hustling. Because it is the duty of the government to take care of it's citizens. There are no classes in Kenya, so if MP's and County representative salaries are increased, so must be the  teachers' salaries and all other civil servants because we all shop at the same supermarkets and we all have children to feed and educate and mouths to feed.

And above all, we all own the country called Kenya. There are no special people who must be considered for salary increment and leave others behind. We are all equal before the law and before the eyes of God. 

As I write this, the government is determined to implement a white elephant project, the so called 'lap-tops for standard one primary kids' who walk to schools bare-footed on hungry stomachs and read English and Arithmetic under trees.

Most schools have no classrooms and if they exist, they have no windows or doors. Indeed, the most urgent priority in those schools is not even laptops, its how to prevent jiggers because the floors of their classrooms are not even cemented.

The second priority is what these pupils can eat for lunch. Further, the pupils have no pens and have no books, be it text books, exercise books or otherwise. So laptpos come as the last priority after the children have had something to eat. For most of them walk on bare feet like a chicken, yet you want to buy them lap-tops instead of buying them shoes or food to feed on. It is stomach first, others follow or are you going to feed hungry children on plastic lap-tops?  

We are tired of seeing teachers in the streets since 1997 demanding for what is rightly theirs. Teachers do a very commendable job, educating our children and all of us including our President and his Deputy.

The president would not be president today if it were not for the teacher who taught him how to speak English and how to add one plus one is equal to two. My personal opinion is that the teacher is the most important person in the society, because it was for the efforts of my primary teacher that I came to England for a masters degree when I couldn't do it on my own.

It is solely because of my teacher that I am writing this article and it is because of your teacher who taught you English that you are able to read this article this far.

Teachers negotiated their deal of salary increment way back in 1997 and 16 years later, it has never been implemented. In contrast, it only took one month to increase the salary of MPs pay who does not do much as compared to teachers.

It is the high time the government took teachers seriously. We need this yearly-strike episode of teachers to end once and for all. We don't want to see our teachers in the streets again. We want them back in the classrooms with descent pay so they are motivated to teach our children. For if our teachers are paid better, they will teach our children to the best of their ability. Let us motivate our teachers by paying them well. 

We must support the Senate that as a whole decided to support the teacher's demand for their long-standing salary increment. The Senate's decision was long overdue. Teacher's increment must be paid now, not tomorrow.


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