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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 11 January 2015

CORD TO HIJACK TEACHERS' STRIKE

Our Reporter

A Cord parliamentary and governors’ meeting held last week at the Wiper Democratic Movement party headquarters made resolutions in their agenda for 2015.
Surprisingly, the meeting came at a time when the teachers’ unions Knut and Kuppet have failed to agree on the return-to-work formula with the government and what raises eyebrows now is why the teachers’ strike was top on the meeting’s agenda.
Within the ruling coalition, the heat is on Labour minister Kazungu Kambi who is accused of misleading Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto to the effect that he had managed to control Knut by sponsoring a new Trade Union Congress of Kenya.
Surprisingly, Tuck has suddenly swung a 180 degrees and turned against the government. Kazungu has been trying to reach out to the officials of Tuck but with no success. This is happening as Jubilee MPs are baying for the blood of Kazungu whom they claim has failed as a cabinet secretary and has to be sacked. In fact, a section of Jubilee MPs want Uhuru to name a taskforce to engage the warring parties who have maintained a hard stance to reach a compromise. The MPs say Kazungu is too busy cutting deals and minting money with Chinese at the expense of the teachers’ plight. His bank accounts which were malnourished just days after 2013 polls are said to be healthy now. Kazungu since the strike started has never visited State House with word Uhuru is bitter with him. Not spared is Education secretary Jacob Kaimenyi. 
The teachers’ strike took the centrestage at Fidel Odinga’s burial with speakers condemning the government for its failure to address the teachers’ grievances, saying that if  the government was serious to engage the opposition in dialogue, it must start with the teachers first.
Back to Cord talks, sources that attended the meeting divulged that the teachers’ strike was discussed at length and finally, a resolution was made and agreed on that Jubilee to engage with teachers union in good faith and resolve the strike over pay. A section in Cord we talked to revealed that if the strike persists, they will be forced to join teachers in the demonstrations across the counties.
The Cord resolution on teachers’ strike reads: “We demand that the Jubilee regime immediately and with utmost goodwill engage teachers’ unions in constructive talks and immediately resolve the biting strike that has grounded learning across the country”.
There is fear in the corridors of power that Cord plans to hijack the ongoing teachers’ strike for political gain. It is not known how they plan to do it but reports indicate that Cord intends to call for public demonstrations to force the government to negotiate with teachers and resolve the pay impasse.
Reports indicate that should the two sides fail to agree by beginning of this week, Cord now plans to lobby parents and students to take to the streets to hold peaceful demos across the country to force President Uhuru Kenyatta to directly engage the union leaders to break the stalemate. Jubilee is already aware that Cord is in the process of hijacking the teachers’ strike for political gains and is said to be working on how to counter it.
Although teachers have only boycotted classes, the new angle by Cord of going to the streets could make it even more serious and having police to contain them countrywide could be difficult and cause mayhem.
It is now being said that the government is also working on a plan B after the Industrial Court initially declared the ongoing teachers’ strike illegal but days later, gave an order to have them reach a compromise.
Knut and Kuppet have defended the ongoing strike, insisting it is legal and protected by law.
Initially, teachers were told that Knut leaders had rejected government’s offer of Sh9.3 billion to cater for house, hardship and leave allowances, alleging that the money is equivalent Sh5.5b.
It is against the collapse of the talks that Cord leaders have condemned the Jubilee government for failing to meet its pledges to the citizenry. The leaders have expressed their dissatisfaction on how Uhuru and his William Ruto are mishandling teachers despite their promise during the campaigns.