Today marks the beginning of the third week of the massive and united strike of Kenyan teachers. Both the main teaching unions KNUT and KUPPET are taking part. Despite the fact that the Kenyan courts have ruled several times that the government has a duty to pay the teachers the 50% - 60% pay rise which they are owed, the government is refusing to comply. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta has intervened in the dispute to say that the country cannot afford to pay teachers: 'We have to start looking at some of these demands against the economic reality. To pay more, we must be able to make more first'. This is the same tired old argument which is being used by governments around the world - and just as in Greece, in the UK, Australia and the US, it is always public services which suffer and low income people who are further impoverished while the rich get steadily richer. In Kenya it has been calculated that $6 billion is lost every year through tax evasion by multinational corporations. So foreign shareholders and financiers and local elites are enriching themselves while those on low incomes, including the country's teachers, continue to suffer.

Kenyan teachers have got huge support for their strike. Leading politicians have expressed support for the strikers as have sections of the press. Meanwhile the federation of trade unions COTU has said it will take strike action in support of the teachers, pending a further court decision tomorrow. Ironically the Teachers Service Commission, which is itself in breach of the law, is attempting to get the strike declared illegal - yet another tactic used by many governments as they try to repress resistance to austerity policies.

While teachers in Kenya, paid poverty wages, struggle to teach often in impossible conditions, companies like Pearson are steadily encroaching on public education, setting up chains of 'low fee' private schools like Bridge Academies. It is a perfect storm for Kenyan teachers - they are facing the imposition of performance pay, privatisation, impossibly large classes and a government which puts aside money for a glossy laptops for schools programme, while there is no funding for basic infrastructure.

Solidarity with the Kenyan Teachers!