The Kenyan National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has hailed today's decision of the courts to award a 50 - 60% pay rise backdated to 2013 as a 'milestone for the teaching profession.' The teachers struck for a prolonged period at the beginning of this year in pursuit of a long overdue pay rise. The employers refused their demands, insisting that they would only get a rise after their work had been 'evaluated'. As we said at the time, such linkage is bad enough in the countries of the North where teachers are doing their best under difficult conditions, but in Kenya it is grossly insulting. Class sizes in the country average 100, there is a shortage of 170,000 teachers and conditions in public schools are very bad. As Sossion put it, teachers are 'underpaid, overworked and overloaded . . . the government should hire enough teachers and remunerate them well.'

The strike was hard fought, with government resorting to dirty tricks and police action, particularly against the leadership of KNUT, to try to break it. When this failed, the matter was put before the courts. Wilson Sossion, the union's General Secretary after the ruling: 'We want to thank the teachers of this country for standing with us, even in the hardest of times where we have been criminalized by government and agents hired by the government to stop us. It has not been easy and I want to believe that the ruling of today sets precedence on good labour practice in the teaching service.'  

However, Sossion made it clear that while this was a significant victory, it was not the end. It has often happened that agreements have not been honoured and there are still outstanding questions about funds for teachers' health insurance. KNUT is demanding that the rise and arrears should be in the teachers' pay slips by the end of next month. Still outstanding also is the issue of teachers' security in the North of the country. As Sossion put it: 'This is just the beginning of the wider struggle.'

However today is a day for KNUT and its sister union KUPPET to celebrate.  The solidarity and steadfastness of Kenyan's teachers has been rewarded.  And they will continue their struggle for properly funded education and for the dignity of their profession until that goal is reached. 

To read more about the long struggle of the Kenyan teachers go