NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 4 – The government now wants the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) fined Sh20 million for disobeying a court order to call off the ongoing teachers’ strike.
In a case filed in court on Thursday afternoon, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) also wants KNUT Chairman Wilson Sossion and acting Secretary General Mudzo Nzili sent to jail for six months.
Earlier in the morning, Attorney General Githu Muigai said such blatant disregard of the law was unacceptable and must be punished as required by law.
“What has happened in this situation is that the court has said ‘return to work,’ and to the extent that the union has not and its members have not, it is in our judgment a contempt of court and the machinery set out in the law has already been kicked of and you will be hearing about all that soon. The process of the law will take its course,” he said.
Muigai pointed out that the union should first obey the court order and if dissatisfied, should appeal the decision.
The AG who is the government’s Chief Legal Advisor said that court orders are there to be obeyed at all times.
“We would hate to think that such a trend would develop. This office is on record several times as saying that the foundation of the rule of law is the obedience of court orders,” he stated.
“Whether it is a private individual, or a government official or a union, court orders must be obeyed. Thereafter the parties can appeal the order but in the first instance, it must be obeyed.”
The KNUT chairman however dismissed Muigai’s statement saying that they will not budge from their mass action.
The Industrial Court on Monday ordered teachers to end the strike and get back to work the following day.
Justice Linnet Ndolo also ordered Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi to urgently convene a meeting to start negotiations aimed at finding a lasting solution on the teachers’ demands.
KNUT officials have refused to call off the strike but agreed to a meeting on Wednesday with the government.
The talks however collapsed late on Wednesday after both sides refused to cede ground.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have been urging the teachers’ union to end the strike and embrace dialogue with the government so as to find a lasting solution.
KNUT had urged teachers to ignore the Industrial Court ruling and press on with their strike that is in its second week.
Sossion stated that the Industrial Court had no powers to call off the teachers’ strike because their demands are genuine, having been agreed 16 year ago.