TSC declares teachers strike illegal

September 25, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, September 25 – The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has dismissed the intended strike by teachers in post primary institutions which was slated for Friday, terming it illegal.

In a statement issued on Thursday TSC Secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni said that the industrial court had already issued a court order prohibiting the Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (KUPPET) from going ahead with the strike.

 “I would like to inform members of the said union that the notice of strike is illegal and in breach of the mandatory provision of the labour relations Act 2007,” the statement read in part.

Mr Lengoiboni warned that teachers participating in the strike risked disciplinary action including the loss of their benefits. He instructed all Provincial, District and Municipal Education officers and the Boards of Governors of schools to report any misconduct to TSC.

“Parents are requested not to pick (withdraw) their children form learning institutions,” he advised.

In a quick rejoinder KUPPET Chairman Maurice Misori told Capital News that the union’s secretariat was scheduled to meet Ministry of Labour officials on Thursday afternoon to deliberate the intended strike.  He said that grassroots officials would then meet on Friday morning to chart the way forward.

“The issue of a court order supersedes any other event. In the circumstances, our grassroots leadership is meeting here (Nairobi) tomorrow (Friday). It is after that we shall be able to give a comprehensive statement,” Mr Misori said.

KUPPET has been engaged in a six-month battle with the government over the harmonisation of their salaries.  The union’s Secretary General Njeru Kanyamba issued the strike notice three weeks ago and said that Education Minister Sam Ongeri had failed to meet them. He said that the more than 80,000 teachers in groups J to R had been discriminated against despite their qualifications.

Mr Ongeri eventually met the union leaders last week but the two could not agree on the membership of the union. It was agreed that the Ministry of Labour steps in to settle the dispute.  Mr Lengoiboni however insisted that the government could not negotiate with the union as its membership was way below that recognized by law.

“The union has 23 percent membership and has not attained the required 51 percent simple majority to enter into a recognition agreement with the commission,” he said.

"The bone of contention which is harmonisation of salaries for all teachers is currently being addressed by the Teachers Service Remuneration Committee (TSRC) whose membership includes among others the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT),” Mr Lengoiboni added.

Mr Misori cast aspersions on the TSRC and insisted that the government must negotiate with the union directly. TSRC was appointed in December last year but KUPPET is not represented on the committee.  It has already proposed a 210 per cent blanket increment for all teachers but KUPPET has dismissed it insisting that the harmonization of their perks with those of other civil servants precedes the blanket increment.

KNUT has already broken ranks with KUPPET and dismissed the strike.



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