, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 15 – The Industrial Court on Monday began hearing a fresh contempt of court case against the Kenya National Union of Teachers, where their employer sought to prove that due process was followed in serving the court order to end the countrywide teachers’ strike.
The Teachers Service Commission wants KNUT chairman Wilson Sossion and Acting SG Mudzo Nzili committed to civil jail for six months for failing to call off the strike which is in its fourth week.
The commission drew Justice Linnet Ndolo’s attention to an affidavit by court process server Alex Mutua which showed that the union officials were properly served, yet chose to ignore the court order.
Through its lawyer Francis Njoroge, the commission pointed out that Sossion and Nzili made remarks to the effect that they would not call off the strike.
“How is it possible your ladyship that when you issue an order that the national executive council of a body simply registered under a ministry as a trade union is the one to direct the teachers not to obey your orders? You are a constitutional authority your honour,” he pointed out.
He also wants the union fined Sh20 million and the building and all assets within its headquarters auctioned for this purpose.
Njoroge stated that the teachers ignored the court process by embarking on demonstrations while flying banners that stated that ‘we cannot eat court orders.’
“How can a body that does not have any power like that of the Court of Appeal, of the Supreme Court, nay, even of the High Court or even a subordinate court call upon the teachers directly and through press statements broadcast to simple and impressionable folk and say that you do not have power,” he asked.
Earlier, KNUT lawyer Chacha Odera tried to prove that due process wasn’t followed in serving the union and that its officials should not be cited for contempt of court as they have not breached any order.
He also sought to prove that orders to resume work only apply to teachers and not union officials.
“Under the Constitution that my learned friend has referred to at great lengths, membership is contained at Article 3 of that Constitution and those are the people whose orders were sought. There was no order sought against the union itself or its officials,” he stated.
Justice Ndolo adjourned the court until Wednesday 10.30am to allow Odera time to go through the evidence by TSC.
The top decision-making organ of KNUT over the weekend rejected the government’s offer of Sh17 billion.
Nzili said the National Executive Council (NEC) will only take a vote to end the strike once the government puts a better offer on the table.
“The NEC is demanding that a housing allowance offer totalling Sh29 billion be put on the table. Before our teachers can commute to work, they must come from somewhere. And the Constitution guarantees them that right,” Nzili said.
Although President Uhuru Kenyatta declined KNUT’s housing demands with the explanation that they are already harmonised with those of other civil servants, Nzili was adamant that their demand must be met before teachers return to class.