Kenya Bosses Warned of Sleepless Nights as Teachers Rejoin Union

(Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s largest teachers union rejoined its main labor association, adding bargaining power as the federation pressures the East African nation’s employers and authorities for wage rises of at least 5 percent.

The return of the Kenya National Union of Teachers to the Central Organization of Trade Unions after half a century will increase COTU’s membership almost 7 percent to 2.9 million, according to the umbrella group’s website. The COTU plans to use Labor Day on May 1 to call for the pay rises.

“When we are together here, the employers will not sleep,” KNUT Secretary-General Wilson Sossion said at the televised announcement in the capital, Nairobi. “Our approach: if one union is injured, all of us are injured.”

Kenya, which has East Africa’s largest economy, is struggling to manage a public-sector wage bill that’s risen an annual 9 percent annually in the last five years, according to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s website.

The KNUT represents about 62 percent of 300,000 teachers employed by the Teachers Service Commission, the largest public-sector employer, according to a 2018 survey by the National Bureau of Statistics. It was split from the COTU by presidential decree in 1969.

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