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Court extends ban on teachers strike

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 7 – The Industrial Court on Friday indefinitely extended orders blocking the teachers strike and urged teachers to engage in dialogue to end the stalemate over pay.

Justice Maureen Onyango further ruled that the strike is illegal under the law and that teachers should resume work immediately.

She warned the teaching fraternity that the courts will not protect them if they fail to report to work.

There was no indication the unions will heed to the order after they failed to call off the strike within hours of the court order which was initially issued last week on Friday.

On Friday, the stalemate between the Ministry of Education and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) also persisted on day five of the strike after KNUT turned down an offer by government terming it as ‘insignificant’.
KNUT chairman Wilson Sossion told Capital FM News that the government had committed to harmonisation of teachers salaries and partial implementation of the allowances agreed in the 1997 deal.

Sossion said that the allowances the government had committed to are the hardship allowances and special allowances for teachers in special education.

He insisted that the teachers want this matter solved once and for all and the steps the government was taking were insufficient.

“We have given the government time to consult more because we feel that the critical areas are left out. We did not even reach the point of discussing the salary increments but we have to let them talk among themselves,” he said.

On Monday teachers failed to heed to the initial Court order given last Friday that suspended the strike instead heeding to the strike call by KNUT.

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The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) had moved to court complaining that the intended strike planned by KNUT and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) is illegal because the Salaries and Remuneration Commission established to review salaries for all civil servants had not been given a chance.

The commission also argued that under the Constitution, every child has a right to education and the intended strike will breach the same.
KNUT had issued a seven-day notice to the government on August 19 and indicated the strike would officially start when schools open for the third term.

The union is demanding salary increments, and other allowances amounting to more than Sh43 billion, from a deal they signed with the government in 1997 ending a teachers strike.

This amount includes a 300 percent salary increment, alongside responsibility allowance at 50 percent, 40 percent and 30 percent for principals and their deputies, senior teachers and heads of departments respectively.

Three days of talks have now failed to reach the desired outcome and the strike may be headed into its second week.

On Thursday, The Ministry of Labor announced that it had transferred the matter back to their education counterparts and that the parties were expected after two days to finalise their return to work formula.

Both KNUT and KUPPET had failed to honor appointments for meetings on Thursday afternoon.

Labor Minister John Munyes however downplayed their failure to show up saying the parties had retreated to talk with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the education Ministry.

“Following the two days of discussions wit TSC, KNUT and KUPPET we have agreed that the parties be allowed for another one or two days to continue with bi-partite agreements that will lead to the unlocking of the stalemate,” said the minister on Thursday night.

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