The government of Kenya has declared the strike of the two main teaching unions in Kenya illegal – despite the fact that the basis of the strike is the government's own failure to keep its side of a bargain wich was signed in 1997.

Teachers in Kenya are still waiting for a living wage and their union leaders have not been intimidated by the government's threats. Chair of the Kenyan National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Walter Sossion said: “That is political mischief by some quarters of the government who don’t want to face reality. Yes, the strike is legal because the matter at hand has been a longstanding dispute between us and the government. I can assure that the teachers of this country are prepared to stay out of their classrooms for as long as it takes.”

Meanwhile in the county of Makueni seven officials of the secondary teachers union KUPPET were arrested when they went into a school to explain the strike call to members. The teachers were held for four hours in a police station, and intimidated and interrogated before being released. KUPPET chair Alex Maingi said, “The OCPD (police) must understand that peaceful strikes and demonstrations are permitted by the constitution. What he did yesterday is against the law.”

The anger of the teachers has been exacerbated by plans to spend $.6 billion on laptops for schools, while teachers are still on starvation wages. Read more about the background to the strike here.