NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 22 – The Industrial court has fined the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Sh5 million after its officials were found guilty of contempt.
Justice Linnet Ndolo ruled that the union officials chose to ignore a court order to call off the nationwide teachers’ strike in contravention of court orders.
“The Kenya National Union of Teachers KNUT, shall pay a fine of Sh5 million. The said fine shall be recovered by the Teachers Service Commission from union dues deducted on behalf of KNUT and paid to court within the next 30 days from the date of this ruling,” she directed.
She has also ordered union chairman Wilson Sossion and Acting Secretary General Mudzo Nzili to pay fines amounting to Sh500,000 each.
“Wilson Sossion shall pay a fine of Sh500,000 and in default, the said Sossion shall be committed to civil jail for 30 days. Mudzo Nzili shall pay a fine of Sh500,000 and in default, the same Mudzo Nzili shall be committed to civil jail for 30 days. This penalty takes effect immediately,” she stated.
Justice Ndolo however found no basis to impose penalties on individual teachers.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) had sought orders to have individual teachers fined Sh10 million to be deducted from their pay for participating in the strike.
“I will address the issue of the teachers who remained on strike beyond July 2, 2013. The applicant asked the court to deem teachers who did not report to work as directed to be in contempt of court and to impose a fine of Sh10,000 on each one of them,” Justice Ndolo stated.
“However, no names of these teachers were issued to the court and the court does not issue orders at large. I therefore find no basis for granting the applicant’s prayer,” she concluded.
Sossion in the meantime said that their spirits have not been dampened by the fines handed over to them by the industrial court.
Speaking soon after being taken into custody as he awaits to pay the fine, Sossion stressed that any attempts to intimidate them will not succeed.
While stating that the experience has strengthened the union, he pointed out that they will be seeking for other avenues to address their grievances.
“The government is totally acting in bad faith against the teachers. Why did it agree to pay the commuter allowance in two phases? This is because they knew that they had wronged teachers and denied them their rights,” he said.
“We felt pity for the government and the economy and that is why we agreed to take it in two phases. Instead of appreciating this however, they are now taking us round to the courts,” he recalled.
Secretary General Mudzo Nzili described the court process as a little bump in the journey for their rights.
“From here is freedom because in the next three hours or so, we shall be out and taking tea with this friend of ours. There is no cause for alarm. You can see the resultant effect. The government was pushing for the judgement and we knew. That is why we kept on coming to court. It has hardened us more. In fact, if I was ‘gangari’ (strong) before, now I am ‘gangari plus,’” he stated.