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Court hears challenge to teachers' strike

15 September 2015, 21:36

Nairobi - Kenya began legal action on Tuesday to try to halt a teachers' strike over pay that is running into its third week, local media reported.

Members of the Kenya National Union of Teachers and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers, which have more than 280,000 members, are staging strikes after the government refused to raise their pay by up to 60 percent.

Their employer, the Teachers' Service Commission (TSC), has gone to court to seek an order declaring the strike illegal.

"Failure of some teachers to resume work has adversely affected the education of more than 12 million school children who have a right to be taught," TSC said in a statement.

The government has said the pay demands are unsustainable, while President Uhuru Kenyatta said last week making the payments would raise the country's wage bill to 61 percent from 51 percent of the budget.

The government forecasts a deficit of 8.7 percent for the year starting July 1 compared with a deficit of 7.8 percent in the previous year. The deficit and other factors such as a globally strong dollar have hit the Kenyan shilling hard.

Last week, the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU), a body representing Kenyan unions, threatened to join the strike if the government did not meet teachers' demands for a 50-60 percent pay rise.

On Friday, the Federation of Kenya Employers got an injunction barring COTU from staging the strike, starting from Sept. 14, pending the court hearing on the teachers' strike.

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- Reuters


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