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Nationwide strike in 7 days unless teachers paid, says COTU

09 September 2015, 20:39

Nairobi - A body representing Kenyan unions on Wednesday threatened widespread strikes next week if the government did not meet teachers' demands for a 50-60 percent pay rise, piling pressure on a government facing a big budget deficit.

Francis Atwoli, secretary-general of the umbrella body, Central Organisation of Trade Unions, told a rally he had issued the "seven-day strike notice" to the labour minister on Tuesday.

Members of the Kenya National Union of Teachers and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers are staging a second week of strikes after the government refused to hike pay by up to 60 percent, although the Court of Appeal supported the demand by state school teachers in a ruling in August.

The teachers' unions have more than 280,000 members.

The warning of a solidarity strike by COTU, which groups transport, railway, county government and other workers' unions, raises the stakes for a government whose budget for 2015/16 already forecasts a deficit of 8.7 percent of gross domestic product.

"The strike notice involves all Kenyan workers both in private and public sectors. The strike is in solidarity with the ongoing teachers' strike over the government defying a lawful order issued by a Kenyan court awarding teachers a pay rise between 50-60 percent," Atwoli told Reuters after the rally.

He said members of unions under the COTU umbrella were told to inform their employers about the strike plan.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich told Reuters in August the teachers' demand was unsustainable.

"The impact of that award is not helpful to the country and even to the teachers because the economic consequences are far reaching and will affect everyone," he said.

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

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- Reuters

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