MPs pile pressure on govt over labour unrests

Written By Michael Maunda on Monday, September 3, 2012 | 9:59 AM

A section of Members of Parliament has asked the two principals to quit office over “their failure” to avert the ongoing strikes by teachers and doctors.

The backbenchers said President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga should take responsibility for failing to stop the strikes that have affected the reopening of schools and also provision of medical care in government hospitals. 

Dujis MP Adan Duale termed the situation a “national crisis”, saying the two sectors were the most vital and any labour boycott would lead to more suffering. 

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) called for the strike to demand for a 300 per cent salary increment and immediate implementation of the 1997 Legal Notice 534 in regard to the allowances payable to teachers. The strike kicked off on Monday.

“The two principals have been silent since the teachers and doctors threatened to strike. They should have addressed this situation before the strikes kicked off. We do not see the reason why they are in office,” said Mr Duale. 

The MP, flanked by other six backbenchers including Labour committee chairperson Sophia Abdi, said children attending public schools will not be able to compensate for the time consumed by the teachers' strike.

“Those tasked with resolving this stalemate take their children to posh schools in Nairobi therefore they do not see the need to resolve it faster. Those seriously affected are children of the poor,” added Mr Duale. 

Migori legislator John Pesa urged Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo to initiate negotiations with the striking teachers to iron out a back to work formula. 

“Let them talk and give parliament recommendations. We are ready to adopt anything that would see this deadlock resolved in the shortest time possible,” Mr Pesa, also a member of the House education committee said. 

The MPs also criticised the manner the Minister for Labour John Munyes has been handling the crisis, saying his ministry has not been in the forefront to find solutions to the strikes.
Nominated MP Sophia Abdi said it was important for relevant government ministries to listen to the concerns of the citizens. 

“The country cannot operate in a vacuum. Parties should sit in a roundtable and agree on the right way forward. Teachers and doctors ought to be heard,” she added.

“We do not even know where Mr Munyes is. He has totally failed his ministry,” Mr Duale said, adding that court orders were not going to help the situation. 

Other MPs who attended the press conference at Parliament buildings were Charles Keter (Belgut), Ekwe Ethuro (Turkana Central) and Pollyns Ochieng (Nyakach).