Kibaki urges striking teachers, lecturers to resume work

President Kibaki at a past function. PHOTO / FILE

President Kibaki has urged striking teachers and lecturers to be sensitive to country's economic status in their demands for pay rise.

Speaking for the first time since the week-long strikes started, the President pleaded with the teachers and lecturers to resume duty saying the government is committed to dialogue.

Kibaki said the government would do what is possible to address their salary dispute.

“Let us be reasonable in our demands and always give dialogue a chance in resolving any misunderstanding that may arise,” President Kibaki said while reading out a written speech.

He made the remarks at Moi Primary School, Nakuru, after laying the foundation stone for the proposed Trauma Centre at Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital said.

Teachers and university lecturers have been on strike since last week, paralysing services in the education sector.

On Sunday, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) officials vowed to continue with the strike, accusing the government of intimidation and not taking their demands seriously.

Knut chairman Wilson Sossion said the strike would continue until their demand for a 300 per cent pay increase is implemented.

Doctors in public hospitals have threatened to boycott work from Thursday to press for better terms. They also want the government to rescind a decision to suspend 393 trainee doctors at two referral hospitals.

President Kibaki, in his Monday address, did not specifically mention the teachers and the lecturers. He only spoke generally about the public servants as well as the medical personnel whom he said the government cares about.

“We assure all medical personnel and other public servants that the Government cares for their welfare and will do what is possible to remunerate you accordingly,” President Kibaki said.

He urged for a speedy conclusion to the current negotiations between the Government and the respective union leaders over the salaries dispute, saying it will enable students to resume studies and avoid disruption in delivery of medical services.

Present during the function were Medical Services minister Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, his cabinet colleagues Esther Murugi (Special Programmes), Yusuf Haji (Defence and acting Internal Security minister) and Eugene Wamalwa (Justice and Constitutional Affairs).

The Trauma Centre is intended to take care for disaster victims. According to Minister Prof Nyong’o, the concept came following the fire tragedies at Nakumatt Downtown Supermarket in Nairobi and Sachang’wan Oil Tanker fire disaster.

The centre, which is being constructed by the Special Programmes minister started in June this year and Prof Nyango said it would be complete by July next year.