Court extends order outlawing teachers’ strike

The strike by teachers entered its second day on Tuesday/MIKE KARIUKI

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept4 – The industrial Court on Tuesday extended orders suspending the ongoing teachers’ strike to Friday when a ruling is expected on the matter.

Justice Maureen Onyango declined to vacate orders obtained last Friday by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) which challenged the strike.

The court will now decide whether the Kenya Union for Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) are in contempt of court.

TSC had pleaded with the court not to lift the orders arguing that KNUT and KUPPET had deliberately flouted the court directive.

Lawyer Allan Sitima representing TSC told the court that KUPPET and KNUT were obliged to obey the court order.

“I urge the court to find that the respondents have no audience before this court until they have demonstrated obedience of the orders of this court,” he said.

The teachers’ employer was accused of using the courts to frustrate the union’s efforts to address the grievances of its members.

KUPPET stood its ground saying the strike was legal and protected within the provisions of the Labour Relations Act.

The union wanted the court to vacate orders suspending the strike saying all necessary steps were taken before the strike was initiated.

On Tuesday – day two of the strike – KNUT stood firm maintaining that its members will not go back to class unless their grievances are addressed.

Despite the court order suspending the strike being pinned on the door of the KNUT headquarters in capital, officials stayed away converging in a hotel insisting they were yet to be served.

KUPPET is expected to start its strike on Wednesday morning.

On Monday, Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo ordered striking teachers to resume duty and warned that pay will be cut for the days they miss work.

“We are going to solve this as quickly as possible, failure to which the TSC will take disciplinary action as I have been informed this (Monday) afternoon, including freezing of salaries to those who have gone on strike, for the period they have not worked,” he warned.

The minister however acknowledged that teachers had legitimate grievances, although he pleaded with them to comply with the court order blocking the strike.

LORDRICK MAYABI

Lordrick is a graduate of the University of Nairobi with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. He is passionate about political and governance issues. He also takes keen interest in human rights matters, justice and is fond of sports.